Fiction Reviews 1-7000: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

1st To Die by James Patterson: First of a brand new series, set in San Francisco with a woman cop as the main character. Enough twists and turns, gristly murders and nasty sexual stuff to keep me riveted for a few hours until I reluctantly turned the last page.  Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

2nd Chance by James Patterson & Andrew Gross: Patterson’s best book since, well, 1st To Die. The Women’s Murder Club is back and the bullets are flying. This entertaining thriller is a fast, fun read. Only complaint: there is a new chapter every third page, which translates to two pages of text per chapter. Seriously. That’s way too many chapters. There must be some reason for this, but damned if I know what it is.  Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

4TH OF JULY by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro: Detective Lindsay Boxer is in trouble and in danger. Her trouble comes from a shooting incident for which she is being sued. Lindsay tries to get away from it by going to her sister’s home at Half Moon Bay which puts her in danger from following up on a ten year old unsolved murder from her rookie days. The setting is appropriate for what is almost a beach read, albeit an entertaining one. Interestingly the why of the various murders seems to jump out much sooner than the whodunit. While the mystery of who really writes these books remains unsolved, Lindsay does survive the other challenges. Recommended. 06/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE 6th TARGET by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro: The latest from Patterson, Inc. starts with a shooting on a San Francisco ferry. Four are killed and Women’s Murder Club member and San Francisco Medical Examiner Clair Washburn is critically injured. Just as fellow Women’s Murder Clubber Lindsay Boxer and her new partner at SFPD get on the trail of the shooter, a news challenge erupts. Someone is kidnapping the children of the rich and their nannies – and they are not demanding ransom. And then there’s even more danger. Either you like these fast paced procedural/thriller/semi-mysteries or you don’t. I do, and I also like an occasional chocolate dipped soft ice cream cone. James Patterson is re-investing a lot in the industry, so grab a copy and be lightly entertained for an hour or so. 07/07 Jack Quick

7 DEADLY WONDERS by Matthew Reilly: The race is on to find the seven pieces of the Golden Capstone that once sat atop the Great Pyramid at Giza. Two millennia ago, Alexander the Great broke the Capstone into seven pieces and hid them in the seven ancient wonders of the world. According to legend, whoever finds and replaces them during a rare solar event called “Tartarus Rotation” (predicted for March 20, 2006) could secure a thousand-year reign of absolute power. Among the contenders are the United States, a coalition of European nations (and the Vatican), an Islamic terrorist group, and a team of smaller nations (including Canada, Ireland and New Zealand) led by Australian Jack West Jr. The Europeans and the U.S. want the Capstone for their own benefit, while West’s noble team believes it’s too potent to belong to any one superpower. Obviously, the date has come and gone, but maybe they didn’t have the right date after all. In the event of stoppage of breathing oxygen masks will drop down. Secure your mask before resuming reading. 07/06 Jack Quick

7th HEAVEN by James Patterson: Remember when reading a James Patterson book was an experience. You hoped for a long weekend so you could enjoy it. Today the books bearing Patterson’s name are like the 100-calorie snack bags – tantalizing but hardly satisfying. Two high profile cases occupy San Francisco homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer and partner Rich Conklin. One involves the disappearance of the teenage son of a former California governor – think Jon Benet Ramsey without a corpse. Also there is a serial arsonist at work responsible for the deaths of a string of wealthy couples. The two cases twist and turn before reaching their appointed end in the required number of pages. Maybe you will want to just catch this one on television – on a slow night. 07/08 Jack Quick

7 SOULS by Barnabas Miller & Jordan Orlando: Mary’s seventeenth birthday is not going down the way she’d expected. She’d thought that she would be inundated with well wishes, showered with gifts, and basically made to feel like the most special girl in the world on “her day.” What she got instead was an embarrassing wake up call: naked and locked inside a Crate & Barrel. Then, when she arrives on campus, her boyfriend dumps her and not one person acknowledges her birthday. Making matters worse is the fact that she’s been having strange episodes paired with visions of a weird house. But it’s when Mary is murdered that she has to admit this has officially been the worst birthday ever. Forced to relive the day of her death through the eyes of seven people, Mary must try and figure out what’s going on if she has any hope of saving herself. To be honest, this was a fascinating concept that didn’t completely work for me. In truth, though, it is a teen thriller that will probably be well received by its intended audience. It’s certainly an original plot, but felt a bit like a paranormal twist onGossip Girl. 07/10 Becky Lejeune

THE 8TH CONFESSION by James Patterson: San Francisco Police Detective. Lindsay Boxer is searching for a killer whose victims are all well-off and have no signs of violence on their bodies. Eventually the trail leads to a perp using a krait, a rare Indian snake, to poison the victims. Meanwhile, journalist Cindy Thomas is pressing the police to devote resources to a low priority murder – that of a homeless man known as Bagman Jesus, whose real name is a mystery. It’s all kind of what you have come to expect from Patterson, Inc. I think I’ll add this series to the other Patterson’s which no longer hold my interest. 07/09 Jack Quick

9 DRAGONS by Michael Connelly: Harry Bosch has a partner he’s not inordinately fond of and a case that he feels is beneath him when a liquor store owner, John Li, is killed during a robbery. Harry’s partner has chained himself to the desk, too scared after recovering from a shooting incident to get back on the streets again. Luckily Harry has help from the Asian Gang Unit to try and solve the murder. But this case turns out to have far reaching implications that Harry never thought possible – especially when his daughter, who lives in Hong Kong, gets involved. 9 Dragons is very gritty, at times heart wrenching, and faster paced than usual. This may be the best Bosch yet. 10/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

9 DRAGONS by Michael Connelly: The latest Harry Bosch mystery, 9 Dragons, not only shows the homicide detective at his most irascible, but is also a fine piece of crime fiction. It recalls several formative episodes in his life (tunnel rat in Viet Nam, the Angel’s Flight case, and his romance with Eleanor Wish) and may foreshadow some major changes for him.As the story opens, Harry is assigned to investigate the murder of a Chinese liquor store owner, John Li. One of Harry’s guiding principles is that he believes that every homicide victim deserves justice and it is his job to see that that is done. He is very short with other policemen who feel less strongly – like his partner. That desire is intensified in this case because Harry had taken refuge in this liquor store during a riot many years ago and had been befriended by Mr. Li. The investigation suggests that this was not a “smash and grab” gone wrong, but may have been connected to a regular program of triad shakedowns.As soon as this possibility is revealed, Harry gets a message that he should back off and then is told that his daughter living in Hong Kong with her mother has been kidnapped. He is given leave to fly to Hong Kong to attempt to rescue her. The mother, Eleanor Wish, is a former FBI agent who is now making a very nice living playing cards for the house in an opulent Hong Kong casino. Harry, Eleanor, and her new companion set out to track the daughter down. The resulting drama is tightly drawn, with plenty of surprises and nasty turns along the way.I was initially drawn to this series because Mr. Connelly really gets policemen right. With his ex-reporter’s eye, he is dead on in his descriptions of controlling attitudes and often unpleasant personalities. And he is just as good with his descriptions of police protocol and politicking, criminal behavior and the local neighborhoods in Los Angeles. But it seems to me now that he is giving Harry more of a human side. In other words, I think that Mr. Connelly is morphing from a reporter into a writer concerned with the subtleties of the human heart. I can’t wait for the next book. 1/09 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

9 DRAGONS by Michael Connelly: Imagine Dave Robicheaux in Paris, Stephanie Plum in Ethiopia, or Dragnet’s Sergeant Friday in Oslo. Now think Harry Bosch in Hong Kong. In this 14th Bosch outing, Connelly sends him overseas in a tightly wound thriller that, while interesting, just doesn’t feel totally correct. Bosch is called out to investigate the shooting death of a Chinese liquor store owner and discovers the dead man was paying a weekly protection fee to a man Bosch suspects is part of a Chinese triad. When Bosch doesn’t back off as warned, the triad kidnaps his 13-year-old daughter, Madeline, who lives in Hong Kong with her mother – Bosch’s ex-wife, a former FBI agent. Bosch flies to Hong Kong to try to rescue Madeline in 39 hours and get back to the United States to keep the triad bad guy in jail and while Bosch is Bosch, the pace is more DaVinci Code or Mission Impossible which takes away from some of Connelly’s adept character development. If you are Connelly fan, 9 Dragons is acceptable, but if you are not familiar with Connelly, don’t judge him solely on this outing. 01/10 Jack Quick

11/22/63 by Stephen King: Jake Epping is just your average English teacher until he’s given a chance to go back and change history. Al Templeton has discovered something amazing in the back room of his diner. It’s a door of sorts that leads straight to 1958. In fact, it always leads to 1958 and every new entry is a complete reset. But by the time Al himself has come up with a plan that could change present day for the better, he hasn’t got time left to put it in play. Al is dying and Jake is his only hope. As a local with no ties, a fairly young man, and a friend, Al turns to Jake as his alternate. By showing Jake the door and giving him a taste of what could be, Al convinces him to take on the task: Jake is to go back to 1958 and stop the Kennedy assassination that will occur in 1963. To succeed, Jake will have to live in the past, taking on a new identity, and studying the movements of the key players. Fortunately, Al did his homework well, but it is Jake who will have to come up with—and follow through on—a plan that will alter the course of history. King never ceases to amaze me. In a typical time travel plot, there are always holes if the reader looks close enough. King’s solution and answer to those (which I won’t tell) works great. As a storyteller, he never ceases to amaze me. This is another one to add to my favorites list. 12/11 Becky Lejeune

12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING by Diane Deverell: e-book also available in hardcover. Kathryn Collins is a state Department Foreign Officer who, with lover Stefan, a former Polish agent who defected to the US, broke up a terrorist operation some years ago. Now Global Flight 500 explodes over Scotland in an eerie duplication of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie. Kathryn is afraid Stefan was on the flight, but when she tries to check into it, the FBI becomes convinced she and possibly Stefan in fact were involved in the bombing. They threaten to subpoena her and have arranged for a suspension of her security clearance. She knows she must get out of the country if she has any hope of finding out what has happened to Stefan. Well written and action packed. 10/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

13 BULLETS by David Wellington: Jameson Arkeley thought he had essentially eliminated vampires when he fought Piter Byron Lares in 1983. He was wrong. Politics prevented him from killing the last vampire, a woman named Justinia Malvern. Due to the increased need for blood as they age, Malvern was unable to kill on her own. As a result, it was determined that killing her would actually be murder. The government has kept her alive all this time, studying her and feeding her. Unfortunately, they also unknowingly allowed her to create a new brood of vamps that are determined to free their master. Pennsylvania State Trooper Laura Caxton was working a routine DUI screening stop when a driver took flight. According to Caxton, this is a rather routine occurrence when a driver fears that they will not pass the sobriety test. What happened next, was not so routine. The trunk of the car was filled with the mutilated dead bodies of a hunter and his family. The driver ran on foot and left behind a still moving arm. Enter US Marshll Arekely, the vampire expert. Much to her dismay, Arekely enlists Caxton as his partner in the investigation. At first, she believes him when he says that this is because she has read up on his past. She soon discovers that Arkeley’s motives are much more self-serving. The vamps have a strange interest in Caxton and Arekely plans on using her as bait to draw them in. Like his zombie trilogy, Wellington’s tales are amped up versions of classic horror subjects. He has a real talent for making them new and refreshing for fans of the genre. It’s Dracula on steroids mixed with a bit of police procedural and enough blood and guts to please today’s horror fans. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY by L.A. Starks: Gasoline at $10 per gallon??? Lynn Dayton manages six vast complexes that transform oil into gasoline. Robert Guillard, a suave Parisian intellectual, directs the sabotage of US refineries, one by one. Robert schemes to coerce Lynn into collaborating as he pursues his outwardly humanitarian goal of building refineries in Third World countries. If she refuses, he will hold hostage her sister, Ceil Dayton, whom he has lured to Paris. An industrial accident at Lynn’s troubled Houston refinery arouses her suspicions. Government officials conclude routine negligence caused the accident, but her own investigation leads Lynn to suspect sabotage. Within a few days, explosions and fires at nearby refineries claim victims. The resulting fuel shortage affects the lives of everyone in North America. Then Lynn is kidnapped. She fights for her life on a catwalk above a storage tank of hot, sulfurous oil and escapes. Deciphering the full extent of Robert’s scheme, she flies to Paris. But will she be in time to derail Robert’s plans and save her sister? Kind of a reverse femjep. 10/06 Jack Quick

13 TO LIFE by Shannon Delany: It’s only been a few months since the accident that killed Jessie Gillmansen’s mother. Things have been tough, but she’s been making it: she still crushes on the heartthrob football player, who seems to be paying more attention to her lately, and she’s got her friends for support. But when Pietr Rusakova moves to town, Jessie’s world begins to turn upside down. She tries to deny her feelings for him and control her curiosity about him, but inevitably the two are drawn together. Is their connection strong enough to survive the revelation of Pietr’s family secrets? 13 to Life is a teen read with werewolves and Russian mobsters. It’s also the first in a series and it’s obvious—much of the story is setup, which throws the pacing off a bit in my opinion. The promise of more Russian folklore is intriguing, though, and the action of the last twenty pages should lead directly into book two. 09/11 Becky Lejeune

14 by J.T. Ellison: Lieutenant Taylor Jackson is just days from walking down the aisle when she’s called to the scene of a gruesome murder. Strangely, the MO resembles that of a serial killer who struck Tennessee in the early 80’s. Dubbed the Snow White Killer thanks to his dark haired, pale skinned victims, and his penchant for smearing bright red lipstick across their faces, he left behind ten victims before apparently throwing in the towel; he was never caught. Has Snow White reemerged after such a long break or are they facing a copycat. Then new evidence is found to support the copycat theory and Jackson and her team are faced with uncovering both of the killers’ identities in order to solve the case. With just two titles released, J.T. Ellison has proven herself to be one of the best new thriller authors out there. Her characters are solid and her plots are refreshingly original – and what a great ending. The third title in the series, Judas Kiss, is due out next spring. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

14 by J.T. Ellison: In the mid 1980’s a serial killer, dubbed the Snow White Killer, terrorized Nashville, Tennessee. There were ten victims, each with pale skin and long dark hair, slashed across the throat, with the same red lipstick smeared across their lips. Then the murders stopped. Now as Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson is finalizing her wedding plans four more bodies are found, marked with the same fatal signature. Is the Snow White Killer back, or is it a copycat killer? What about Jackson’s father who has disappeared off his boat? Interesting follow-up to All the Pretty Girls. 07/09 Jack Quick

15 SECONDS by Andrew Gross: It starts out with two seemingly unrelated events. First, 19 year old Amanda Hofer, stoned on prescription drugs, is involved in a traffic accident that kills a mother and her young son, a child never seen by his father who is serving in Afghanistan. Then a Doctor is stopped in Jacksonville, Florida, in a seemingly meaningless traffic stop. Things get ugly when backup cops arrive but eventually everything settles down. Doctor Henry Steadman thinks he is going to get off with a warning. But then a blue sedan drives by and shots ring out. The policeman who stopped Dr. Steadman is dead, and Steadman knows there are a bunch of policemen who think he is the killer, so he runs to the only friend he has in Jacksonville. When he gets there he finds his friend shot to death. From there on, things only get progessively worse for Henry Steadman. On the run and cut off from the help he needs, Steadman’s only hope is a Jacksonville Community Relations officer who seems to be the only one willing to not pass judgment on Steadman’s guilt or innocence. Will that be enough? Andrew Gross cut his teeth co-authoring with James Patterson but has certainly come into his own. This one puts the thrill in thriller as a diabolical plot unfolds trapping the guilty and the innocent in a maze from which there appears to be no exit. Yes there are parts that are “over the top” but isn’t that true of most thrillers? That is part of what makes them so exciting. This one was unputdownable. 5/13 Jack Quick

15 SECONDS by Andrew Gross: Gross came upon the literary scene primarily through several novels written in collaboration with James Patterson. He has currently written several novels under his own name and been able to put together plots and situations that instantly capture the reader’s attention. 15 Seconds, his latest book, continues in the same vein as the previous novels. Suspenseful, riveting and pulling the reader into the story almost upon opening the book. The first section of the novel puts together a sequence of events that, the principal character, Dr. Henry Steadman finds incredulous. A successful Florida plastic surgeon, he is arriving to deliver the keynote address at a conference in the Carolinas. Upon getting off the plane and driving towards his hotel, and a prearranged game of golf, he is pulled over by a policeman and accused of unstated crimes. Several of the officer’s colleagues drive up and continue the browbeating, than drive away. The original officer moves back to his car, and is suddenly shot and killed by person or persons unknown. Henry rightly does not know what has just happened but feeling that he will be blamed for the murder runs away. The remainder of the first part deals with subsequent, unexplained events that seem to involve Henry more and more into criminal activities. The second section of the book explains and provides the reasons for the continuing attacks on Dr. Steadman but rather than allowing the reader some breathing room drives up the pace even more. The approach to the truth is logical and follows section one quite neatly. Along the way, Henry finds an ally in the person of a young woman that has just returned to work at her job as a publicist with the local police department after going through personal tragedies of her own. Via contact on the phone she realizes the truth of the accusations against Henry, and helps him. Dr Steadman is divorced and the developing romance between the two is a logical adjunct of the story. Engrossing, filled with constant action and definitely a book that can’t be put down, 15 Seconds continues Andrew Gross’ steady rise in the literary world. 8/12 Paul Lane

18 SECONDS by George D. Shuman: Blind and beautiful Sherry Moore has an epileptic type condition that gives her an extraordinary talent. Each of us has approximately 18 seconds of short term memory “present” in our brain at all times. At death, those “final” 18 seconds are stored in the brain. Moore, because of her condition, can “see” these final moments by touching the deceased corpse. This is not without pain, however, as she “relives” those moments in her own mind, a debilitating and terrifying experience. Earl Sykes was imprisoned thirty years ago but is now on the streets of Wildwood, New Jersey, abducting and killing young women. Police Lieutenant Kelly O’Shaughnessy is puzzled by the sudden disappearance of several young females from the boardwalk – crimes reminiscent of a series of unsolved disappearances in the seventies. Eventually she enlists the aid of Moore in a desperate attempt to end the bloodshed. Although a bit of “woo-woo,” I found the book to be well written and intriguing, but not for the faint of heart. Hopefully, there will be more from this ex-Washington, DC Metro Police veteran. 06/07 Jack Quick

20TH CENTURY GHOSTS by Joe Hill: A great short story must accomplish in roughly twenty pages what a full-length novel takes time to develop. It’s not an easy task. Many authors refuse to even try their hands at short fiction. Some, however, have truly mastered the effort and Joe Hill falls into this category of talent. This award winning collection features a wide array of stories. Some are bloody and shocking while others are more sweet and sentimental. In “20thCentury Ghost” a haunted theater is celebrated by years of patrons who were touched by its ghostly visitor. In “The Cape” a child’s fantasy becomes a reality that haunts him into adulthood. And, in “Last Breath,” a macabre museum is more than meets the eye. Each story is an absolute gem that proves Joe Hill is new talent to be reckoned with. Not only can he create chilling tales of horror like that of “Best New Horror” – a story that is more than a little reminiscent of the southern gothic trend – but he also brings together long separated lovers for one afternoon of what-ifs in “Bobby Conroy Comes Back From the Dead.” I highly recommend this collection to all readers. Not only is this a perfect introduction to an amazing author, read one at a time, these short tales provide an entertaining break in a busy day. 10/07 Becky Lejeune

THE 25TH HOUR by David Benioff: I don’t think I have ever read a book quite like this one. Monty Brogan is a 27-year-old drug dealer who will enter Otisville Federal Prison tomorrow to do seven years hard time. Monty really wanted to be a fireman, but fell in love with “sway,” the deference afforded a young man with important connections. That led him to selling drugs for Uncle Blue in Manhattan. His buddy, maverick bond trader Frank Slattery, thirsts for serenity, while fighting his covert lust for Monty’s Puerto Rican girlfriend. Despite Monty’s dismal future, shy Jakob Elinsky, an ethical, awkward high school English teacher, envies his friend’s self-assurance with women as he struggles to control his own secret hunger for a talented writing student, 17-year-old Mary D’Annunzio. The three friends spend one last night together dancing and drinking at Uncle Blue’s nightclub. It’s all about lost youth and what might have been, if different paths had been taken. Very well done. 06/10 Jack Quick

31 BOND STREET by Ellen Horan: The murder of Harvey Burdell and the trial that followed captivated New Yorkers in 1857. The murdered dentist, Burdell, shared his home with Emma Cunningham, a widow without means of her own and in search of a husband. Emma was accused and prosecuted for the murder. Now, the case is brought to life once again in Ellen Horan’s masterful debut. Attorney Henry Clinton hears of the case and receives a note from Emma that prompts him to come to her defense. His decision to take on the case, and the popular district attorney, severs his partnership at his law firm. Not one to be that easily deterred, Clinton vows to fight for justice for his client. But the question that Clinton, and the citizens of New York, have to ask themselves is whether Emma Cunningham is really capable of murder or if she’s become an unfortunate victim of the justice system. Much of the mystery is ripped straight from the actual 19th-century headlines. Horan’s impressive twisting of the actual case and politics of the time period makes 31 Bond Street a definite stand out. Historical mystery fans take note, this is one you won’t want to miss. 03/10 Becky Lejeune

47 RULES OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE BANK ROBBERS by Troy Cook: This debut novel about a father training his 9-year-old daughter in bank robbery is zany black comedy at its best. Wyatt Evans is a brilliant psychopath who has made a career out of robbing banks. Along the way, he killed his wife and taught his daughter the 47 rules of the family business. But by the time Tara is 23, she is chafing under her father’s rigid, psychotic thumb and wondering if it is time to move out on her own. Then she meets Max, who empathizes with Tara as he has a nut of a father himself, although on the other side of the law – his father is the Sheriff. Meanwhile Wyatt is heading the FBI’s ten most wanted list, Tara & Max take off and Wyatt, the Sheriff and the FBI are all on the chase. 47 Rules is well written, original, clever and laugh out loud funny – don’t miss it. 07/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

47 RULES OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE BANK ROBBERS by Troy Cook: As they rehearse a bank robbery, nine year old Tara to her father Wyatt, “How come they don’t make a Bank Robber Barbie?” Wyatt’s response, “It’s that damn Corporate America! They’re trying to warp your fragile little mind.” Further advice from Wyatt Evans to his daughter, “You keep your gun pointed straight at him and say anything you want. The crazier the better…The crazier you are, the more respect you get. This is one of life’s lessons here, so remember it.” With this for a beginning, it’s no wonder that Troy Cook’s debut has created a storm. Tara grows up but doesn’t outgrow her raising, which makes for an interesting story of the two most unlikely bank robbers since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You have to love it, even when Tara falls in love with the son of the local sheriff. Like Wyatt says, “It’s always something.” 12/06 Jack Quick

THE 47TH SAMURAI by Stephen Hunter: Retired Marine Corps sniper Bob Lee “The Nailer” Swagger, now in his sixties, returns in this thriller that began some sixty years ago on Iwo Jima when his father Earl won the Medal of Honor. Philip Yato is the son of the Japanese officer who commanded the bunker, which was the basis of that skirmish. He has come to America seeking the family sword taken into battle by his father and brought home by Swagger Senior. It turns out there is more to the sword which leads to a series of terrible crimes with Swagger deeply involved. Another first rate outing from Hunter who has so skillfully told the story of three generations of Swaggers. 07/08 Jack Quick

61 HOURS by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back and in fine form in this latest outing. This time he’s caught a ride on a tour bus but it spins out on the ice and he lands in Boulton, South Dakota. After helping the senior citizens off the bus, Reacher realizes something is going on in this small town. The local police are trying to deal with guarding a retired librarian turned states witness and there appears to be a huge meth lab on the outskirts of town at an abandoned military installation, run by a motorcycle gang at the behest of a Mexican drug lord. The cops are also on call for the federal penitentiary that employs most of the town; seems the mayor agreed to have every cop in town at the beck and call of the prison warden in the event of an emergency. It doesn’t take Reacher long to get involved with the local police department, using his military connections to help with the meth lab problem and taking his turn guarding the witness. Not quite as action packed as previous Reacher novels, yet nonetheless this is a page turner of the finest kind. 05/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

61 HOURS by Lee Child: All the action in this 14th Jack Reacher adventure occurs in just 61 hours, hence the title of the book. Reacher appears early on as a passenger in a tour bus that skids off the road and crashes near Bolton, S.Dak., a tiny burg with big problems. A highly sophisticated methamphetamine lab run by a vicious Mexican drug cartel with bikers as security has begun operating outside town at an abandoned military facility. Additionally they are the site of both a Federal and a State prison facility with a mutual aid compact that requires 100% participation by the Bolton police department in the event of an escape. That would greatly hinder their current top priority, safe guarding the life of a sweet little old lady who is the key to their shutting down the biker meth operation. After figuring out the snow-bound, marooned Reacher’s smart, great with weapons, and capable of tapping military intelligence, the helpless local cops enlist his assistance, and, as always, that get the full measure of our wandering hero. Another great Reacher. If you haven’t begun this series, today would be a great day to start. 07/10 Jack Quick

88 WAYS TO DIE by Johnnie Mitchell: Interesting PI tale self-published by the author earlier this year. Black PI Ellis Mason is a small businessman in Chicago in 1988 who gets caught up in a murder case when the girlfriend of his client is killed. As he is pulled deeper and deeper into the matter he hooks up with Brad Royce, a big time agency owner who numbers among his clients a congressional candidate looking for dirt on a rival. It is Chicago, after all, so, its not surprising that Mason and Royce are soon swimming upstream in a river of murder, greed, and political corruption. As with many self- published efforts, this book could have benefited from some tighter editing, more street time and less “bed time.” I hope Mr. Mitchell does well enough to produce some more, as Mason could potentially be Chicago’s answer to LA’s Eazy Rawlins. 10/07 Jack Quick

172 HOURS ON THE MOON by Johan Harstad: In the years since Apollo 11, NASA has made great effort to return to the moon. That effort has finally become a reality and will be the opportunity of a lifetime for three teens. A new mission has been set and three teens from around the globe will be randomly selected to accompany a team traveling to DARLAH-2, a modular space station built at the site of that original moon landing. The station has been unmanned until now but has always been meant for use during longterm missions. The team, including the teens, will test the facility and make sure everything is set for future use. But the mission isn’t that straightforward. There’s a reason moon missions have been delayed for so long. Is the world ready for the secrets NASA has been hiding all these years? Space horror is something I love, in theory, but have seen very little of. And what’s out there tends to be great or greatly terrible. Fortunately Harstad’s teen moon horror falls into the former category. The characters are a bit formulaic at the outset, but once the story picks up and the uber creepy atmosphere takes over, 172 Hours on the Moon becomes an ultimate win in my opinion. 3/13 Becky Lejeune

212 by Alafair Burke: 212 is the area code for Manhattan and also the “name” of a swanky New York apartment building developed by Donald Trump clone Sam Sparks. When Sparks’ bodyguard, Robert “Robo” Mancini, is found murdered in Sparks’ penthouse apartment, Sparks reaction seems to be too over the top forNYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher. Hatcher’s aggressive pushing of the case ends up costing her a night in jail on a contempt citation, and a stern warning to stay away from Sparks. But when Hatcher and her partner, J.J. Rogan, begin investigating the murder of NYU student Megan Gunther, the target of threatening posts on a college gossip Web site, they discover a link between the student and a recently murdered real estate agent. Are all three connected in some way? Was the real estate agent really moonlighting as a prostitute? Just like her dad, James Lee Burke, you can count on a full book’s worth of excitement from Alafair. Highly recommended. 04/10 Jack Quick

212 by Alafair Burke: In the beginning of 212, the latest Ellie Hatcher thriller, a body is found in a rich real estate mogul’s apartment. Ellie and her partner, J.J. Rogan, are sent to investigate and Ellie promptly arrests the exec for disturbing her scene. The fallout from that action is swift and though Ellie suspects the man may have had a hand in the murder, the man’s become all but off limits. A few months later, the case still open and no concrete leads to speak of, Ellie and Rogan are sent to a new scene. This time, a college coed and her roommate have been brutally attacked, the roommate barely survives and the other girl is pronounced dead on the scene. Turns out, the girl was being harassed on a popular college gossip site. She and her parents approached the police just one day before the murder and were told there was nothing they could do. With two high-profile cases weighing heavy on her, Ellie has her hands full, but she is dead-set on solving them both. Though this is the third in the series, readers who are new to Burke can jump right in without missing a beat. I’m looking forward to going back to Ellie’s beginnings until I can see what’s in store for her next. 03/10 Becky Lejeune

THE 731 LEGACY by Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore: Black Needles is the code name for an ancient virus discovered by an ultra-secret Japanese WWII Unit. Now it is the hands of the North Koreans, specifically a descendent of the original Japanese Unit 731 with a grudge against the world and Americans in particular. A dying man, an early victim of Black Needles, makes his way to SNN headquarters, where he delivers a mysterious message to Cotten Stone with his final breath. As Cotton is trying to decipher the meaning of this, her friend, Cardinal John Tyler is kidnapped while on a diplomatic mission to the Eastern European Republic of Moldova. Cotton rushes to Europe and there she finds that Black Needles and John’s kidnapping are intertwined. While battling the forces of evil, Cotten fights for her soul as the Nephilim attack the person she loves most in the world. A high-speed continuation of The Grail Conspiracy and very nicely done. 12/08 Jack Quick

7,000 CLAMS by Lee Irby: Frank Hearn was all set to go to Florida with the proceeds from his cache of smuggled Canadian scotch, when it gets taken away from him. There is little left for him to do but steal a $7,000 IOU from the one and only Babe Ruth and set out for Florida to cash in. Babe’s IOU is actually a gambling debt owed to a underworld boss, and before it makes front-page news, everyone from crooked cops to rabid henchmen get involved. Throw in a botched kidnap attempt and a few gallons of bathtub gin and you have the roaring twenties down pat. A bit uneven, as most first novels are, but captures the spirit of the times quite nicely. Tighter editing should help his next work. 01/06 Jack Quick

Fiction Reviews A: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

ABANDON by Blake Crouch: In the winter of 1893, every man, woman, and child in Abandon, Colorado, disappeared without a trace. Professor Lawrence Kendall has studied the history of Abandon for years and has pitched a story to his daughter, journalist Abigail Foster, that she can’t resist. Together, with a set of tour guides and a couple of paranormal photographers, they will hike out to the ghost town and try to discover the truth about Abandon. Their first day in the seemingly empty town, though, they are met with two masked men armed to the teeth and searching for something they are sure Lawrence can lead them to. The story alternates with the final days of the 1893 settlers, culminating with today’s explorers facing the same twisted fate. Crouch’s tale is engaging enough to keep the reader hooked, and that may be its saving grace. I didn’t feel overly attached to, or, truth be told, all that interested in, most of the characters. They were underdeveloped in most instances or over the top in others. Disappointing because I had so been looking forward to this one. 07/09 Becky Lejeune

ABANDON THE NIGHT by Joss Ware: As the Envy Chronicles series continues, Ware rewards readers with a tale that’s been taunting us since book one. Quent and Zoe met in Beyond the Night. Their dance continued into Embrace the Night Eternal. Finally, Abandon the Night is their story. Growing up, Quent gave off the appearance of a spoiled playboy. He never had meaningful relationships and never got along with his father. In the allure and mystery of Zoe Kapoor, Quent has finally found a girl he can’t get out of his mind. But this new world is no place to start a family, a thought that has left Quent torn between desire and reality. When it is revealed that Parris Fielding, Quent’s father, was one of the Cult of Atlantis—the people behind the events that horribly shaped this new world—Quent vows to be the one to finally kill him. Zoe has her own reasons for wanting Fielding dead, but even she doesn’t know of his connection to her lover. Together, they’ll finally track the illusive Strangers, the Cult, and their hideout. But can Zoe trust the man whose own flesh and blood was responsible for the death of so many? 03/10 Becky Lejeune

THE ABDUCTION by Mark Gimenez: Caution: don’t start this book unless you have time to finish it – I could not put it down. After his excellent debut, The Color of Law, Gimenez just knocks it out of the park with his sophomore effort. The Brice family are a little more well-to-do than most; Elizabeth is a successful Dallas attorney, and her husband John is a computer nerd with a company that is about to go public and make him a billionaire. Their ten-year-old daughter Gracie is a budding soccer star and it is at her game that things go awry – Gracie is kidnapped while Dad is on the phone about his IPO and Mom is late coming from court. People may fear for their lives, but they really fear for their children’s lives, and these characters are so well drawn that it becomes incredibly easy to suspend your disbelief and get completely caught up in the story. I loved the tough-as-a-tiger mom, and the special bond between Gracie and her retired Green Beret grandfather was especially touching, all of which helped ratchet up the suspense even more. The Abduction is one of the best thrillers of the year.09/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

About the Author by John Colapinto: This brilliant thriller starts out with a simple case of plagiarism, but quickly twists and turns into a spellbinding story of deceit, lust, blackmail and murder. It’s rare to find a new angle in this genre, and I for one am most appreciative. Check out the Interview with Colapinto  Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ABSENT FRIENDS by S. J. Rozan: I have enjoyed all of Rozan’s Lydia and Bill novels and eagerly picked up this one. Unfortunately, it did not meet my expectations. Basically New York City Fire Capt. James McCaffery died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Exactly 22 years earlier, on September 11, 1979, Mark Keegan, a childhood friend of McCaffery’s killed a local Staten Island mob boss’s son. Keegan later was himself killed in prison and left behind a wife and young child. Ever since, the Keegan heirs have received financial support from McCaffery. Much to the dismay of McCaffery and Keegan’s friends, an enterprising news reporter is intrigued by the story and starts digging into it. The reporter then dies mysteriously. The smoke of the Twin Towers hangs heavy over all the narrative as Rozan attempts to weave a tapestry of some 40 interconnected lives over two and half decades. Maybe the next generation will deem this to be a classic, but for me, right now, it was too much, too soon, about a day that changed our world. 08/06 Jack Quick

THE ABSENT ONE by Jussi Adler-Olsen: In this follow up to The Keeper of Lost Causes, the newly formed Department Q has proven their worth and is gaining attention. Mørck, in spite of his personality quirks, has also managed to gain the grudging respect of others on the force. Now with their pick of cold cases to choose from it would seem odd that Mørck settles on a case closed with a confession and a conviction, but something about the file smells fishy – especially it’s appearance in the department altogether. Why would a closed case land on Mørck’s desk at all? Mørck’s curiosity is piqued when he learns that the case – the murder of a brother and sister in 1987 – is connected to a group of well-placed and highly connected individuals. What’s more, a growing list of unsolved crimes also seems to be tied to the case. Of course Mørck is warned off when his superiors learn what he’s up to, something that only spurs him on. Mørck’s brash nature and sour attitude are part of the appeal in this series. While the mystery is as well plotted and dark as Keeper, the eccentricities that I loved so much in the first book were not as present in this second of the series. Assad and Rose, the new addition to the department, didn’t seem to have much development at all, which didn’t detract from the overall read but is definitely something I hope will be addressed as the series continues. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie: No one writes Native American like Sherman Alexie, and in this book for young adults, he tackles life on the rez with humor, passion and compassion. Arnold Spririt, a Spokane Indian, was born with water on the brain. Nevertheless, he is a bright, creative boy, despite being picked on most of his life. In looking around the reservation he realizes that his lot in life will be like that of everyone else he knows – poverty, alcoholism and an early death. But he’s a smart kid, and he also realizes that an education is the only way out, so he manages to get himself into an all white school twenty miles away. He can’t always get a ride, so he hitchhikes or walks, determined to get that good education. His Native American friends think he’s a traitor to his people, and the white kids aren’t sure what to make of him either. But with dogged determination, he succeeds in winning them all over, but not without lots of dramedy first. This semi-autobiographic coming of age story with a multicultural twist is a first rate read. 09/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ABUNDANCE by Sena Jeter Naslund: In 1770, at only 14 years of age, Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria left her home to marry Louis August, the Dauphin of France – the man who would become Louis XVI. Four years later, she became Queen. In 1793, she was pronounced guilty of high treason and sentenced to a death by beheading. By using historical facts and biographies, Sena Jeter Naslund has created a vivid portrait of what Marie Antoinette’s life might have been like. Readers will get a feel for not only the excessive and opulent lifestyle the monarchy enjoyed, but also what it must have been like to grow and mature in the eyes of a country. Every part of her life, her image, and her family was under the scrutiny of the French public. No one can actually know Marie Antoinette’s thoughts and feelings but Naslund has added depth and flesh to the facts to produce a wholly believable story. This title will appeal not only to history buffs and those curious about Marie Antoinette, but to fans of literary fiction as well. 10/06 Becky LeJeune

THE ACADEMY by Bentley Little: Strange things are going on at Tyler High School. Recently converted to a charter school, Tyler High is undergoing a lot of changes. The principal, normally a very laid back and kind woman, has turned into a strict dictator-like leader. She has created a group of “Tyler Scouts” that parade around the school, empowering them to enforce rules and regulations with students AND teachers. Students and teachers that opposed the contract have gone missing. Ghostly images of children are seen playing on the school grounds, and student and staff alone are afraid to enter the school grounds at night alone. A handful of students and teachers still brave enough to stand up against the school join up and discover a way to destroy the evil at Tyler High. Bentley Little’s THE ACADEMY is full of horrific tales of the atrocities that take place at Tyler High. The ending seemed to be a little too “neat”, but that certainly didn’t take anything away from this great work piece of horror fiction. This was my first taste of Little’s writing; I can’t wait to read more from him. 11/08 Jennifer Lawrence

ACCESSORY TO MURDER by Elaine Viets: This is the third book in the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series and quite enjoyable. A supposedly random shooting at the mall leaves a young, upcoming scarf designer dead and Josie’s friend Alyce’s nerves shot. Things like that aren’t supposed to happen in an upscale suburb of St. Louis. But then Alyce’s husband is accused of the murder and she begs Josie to help. As Josie delves into the murder and upscale suburban life, she finds no one is as they appear and nothing is as it seems. Nice twisty little mystery with Viets’ hallmark humor plus some great shopping tips at the end of the book. 11/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ACCIDENT by Linwood Barclay: Glen Garber has a construction business that’s been hard-hit by the economy, and many of his neighbors are also having financial troubles. A couple of the women have taken to hosting “purse parties” where they sell illegal knockoffs of designer handbags as a way to make a little extra money. Glen’s wife, Sheila, is taking a business course at night so she can help him with the accounting, except one night Sheila doesn’t come home. Glen grabs his sleeping daughter and goes out to look for Sheila, but she’s been in a fatal car accident and killed two other people. The cops say she was drunk and at fault, and Glen is having a hard time believing it. A couple of weeks later, one of her best friends is killed in another accident, and Glen realizes things are seriously awryin this small Connecticut town. Throw in more deaths, a shady cop, a suspicious fire and lots more dirty laundry, and you have a real suburban nightmare. Verdict: A master of domestic suspense (No Time for Goodbye), Barclay has written an emotionally gripping page-turner that is scarily believable. Perfect for Harlan Coben fans. 08/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch KINDLE Copyright © 2011 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE ACCIDENT by Linwood Barclay: Barclay is a master at grabbing the reader immediately and dragging him or her into the story. The Accident is no exception. Glen Garber is a contractor living an upscale life in the state of Connecticut. On a horrible evening Glen’s wife Sheila is very late returning from a business class she is taking in order to help with finances for the family. When Glen goes out looking for her he comes upon his wife killed in an accident that apparently she caused due to drunk driving, and which also killed two other people. Glen is 100% sure that Sheila was not drunk and does not drink to excess. His frenzied search for the real cause of the accident throws him into a world of lots of money available through the sale of “knockoffs”, that is, copies of name brand pocketbooks, watches and even pharmaceuticals. The knockoffs are sold by housewives throughout the affluent area they live in, with the merchandise supplied by a criminal group that will resort to murder if necessary to retain control of the market. In the course of solving what is really, his wife’s murder Glen’s work is instrumental in getting to the bottom of the area criminal structure. There are several other murders as well, all intertwined through the participation in the sale of the knockoffs. There is a great deal of similarity with the drug trade due to the presence of a lot of tax free money motivating criminal activity, and Barclay has painted a picture of a world that is not that well known, although most of us have encountered inexpensive knockoffs at various levels and bought them to show off our ability to afford the real trademarked goods. The final murder solved by Glen’s intervention is a bit of a surprise, but well within the parameters of the plot. 11/11 Paul Lane

THE ACCIDENT MAN by Tom Cain: An international assassin, Samuel Carver, is paid to take out bad guys who can’t be touched by legal means while making the hits look like accidents, is the intriguing premise for this first novel. Things get really tense when one of his targets is in a car full of people hurtling through a tunnel in Paris, and one of the passengers turns out to be Princess Diana. Immediately after that hit, someone tries to take Carver out, and the game is on. A beautiful Russian spy is one of the unlikely assassins, and Carver manages to turn her. Together they explore the plot to kill Diana and find out who is masterminding the whole thing. Conspiracy fans will love this. Cain is the pseudonym for a British investigative journalist, adding some heft to the conspiracy theory. 03/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ACCIDENT MAN by Tom Cain: British journalist Tom Cain has come up with a new twist on an old story. It’s Paris, 1997 and hit man Samuel Carver is in a tunnel preparing to do a job. The car wreck he creates causes a speeding black Mercedes to crash into a stone pillar, surely killing the car’s occupants. Moments later, Carver finds himself the target of an apparent Russian killer. Only later does he learn that the victim of his actions was, in fact, Princess Diana, and not the terrorist he was told would be occupying the car. Since Carver only does bad guys, he vows revenge on the people who set him up. This includes several spy organizations and various intermediaries. Think James Bond without the government backing. Nicely written and perhaps the basis for an on-going series featuring Carver and his Russian female accomplice. Wilbur Smith calls this “This is the best first thriller I have read since The Day of the Jackal, and that was a long time ago.” Not a bad recommendation. 05/08 Jack Quick

ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN by Simon Wood: It’s a good life for Josh Michaels – the California life, with nice house, loving wife, beautiful daughter, good job neat car. On the other hand, there is the attempt to kill him by running him off the road, the fact he is being blackmailed by a ex-lover and a secret that could land him in prison. Michaels survives the automobile accident but what about his other problems. Are they all inter-related? After a plane crash kills his flying partner instead of Michaels, he realizes the police aren’t going to be of much help. If he is to survive he must figure things out on his own. 09/07 Jack Quick

ACCORDING TO JANE by Marilyn Bryant: Something strange happens to Ellie Barnett at the moment she is first assigned Pride & Prejudice in her high school English class: Jane Austen herself begins to speak to her. For years, Austen would be Ellie’s constant companion, her voice of reason, her conscience. And Austen does her best to help Ellie maneuver her way through the dating world in order to find her very own Mr. Darcy. But now in her thirties, Ellie has begun to wonder if her Darcy will ever come. As she looks back on her years of unworthies, all conveniently fitting into P&P’s mapped out caste system of men, Jane Austen is there by her side, coaching and coaxing. But could both Jane and Ellie have been wrong about someone along the way? Or is Mr. Darcy yet to come? And how will Ellie know when and if he finally crosses her path? This latest in the Austen-inspired string of releases is a cute and light read. One does begin to wonder how much stock to place in Austen’s opinion of men, though. Her voice starts to get a bit curmudgeonly after a while and it’s hard to set aside the knowledge that Austen was never married herself. 10/09 Becky Lejeune

THE ACCOUNTING by William Lashner: William Lashner is the author of several successful detective novels featuring Victor Carl. The Accounting is a stand alone book with a lightning fast delivery, an engrossing plot and characters that are flawed but unforgettable. Jon Willing aided by his best friends Augie and Ben find a cache of money hidden with a large quantity of drugs in one of the houses in their neighborhood, lived in by two brothers who are their enemies. They agree to steal the money, hide it and not touch it until there is no longer any possibility of the theft being traced to them. Twenty-five years after the theft Jon finds himself in a failing marriage, out of a job due to the great recession slamming the country, estranged from his two children and facing financial ruin. To make matters worse his friend Augie is not returning his calls, and when Jon goes to Las Vegas to check on him he finds him in his bed, tortured and murdered. Realization hits letting Jon know that the worse has happened and the people behind the stolen money are now after him and his friends looking for payback. Escaping from them finds Jon running around the country and facing his past and real or imagined friends and enemies in getting to the resolution of his problems. Lashner keeps the reader glued to the book and going from one crisis to another. The ending is logically arrived at and quite satisfying in the light of the events depicted. Awaiting the author’s next book is a given. 05/13 Paul Lane

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis: Godspeed is humanity’s hope for the future: a massive ship traveling across the universe to deliver a very special cargo to a new, Earth-like planet. The trip was supposed to take three hundred years. Amy and her parents would sleep through the whole thing, waking when the ship reached its destination and helping to settle the new world. But something has gone very wrong and Amy is awake – fifty years ahead of schedule. In the time she has slept, things on Godspeed have changed dramatically and now a murderer prowls the ship. If Amy can help discover the killer’s identity and his plans, maybe she can save her parents and the rest of Godspeed. Across the Universe is a spectacular debut! A cross between science fiction and mystery, Beth Revis’s book is a highly imaginative and captivating read for both teens and adults, and is the first in a projected trilogy. 1/11 Becky Lejeune

ACTS OF NATURE by Jonathon King: Max and Sherry on vacation at a friend’s remote fishing camp in the Everglades, a trio of housebreakers and general ne’er do wells and a pair of deadly security guards. What ties them all seven together? An unpredictable shift in the course of hurricane Simone has placed them all at risk. Similar to but different from James Lee Burke’s Tin Roof Blow Down, King describes not only the awesome power of these storms but their effect on people, before, during, and after. A top notch read. 09/07 Jack Quick

ADDITION by Toni Jordan: A light-hearted tale of one woman’s struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Grace Lisa Vandenburg develops an insatiable need to count at the age of eight. She counts everything, number of steps taken, number of letters in names, number of seat in a restaurant. She finds comfort in both their simplicity and complexity. The numbers are always there for her. One day it all begins to change, though. Her carefully mapped out life is jarred out of sync when she runs into Seamus Joseph O’Reilly. First it is in the grocery store where her incorrect number of bananas prompts her to steal one from his basket when he is not looking. And then he’s in her café, the one she visits every weekend for hot chocolate and orange cake. She accepts his invitation to sit and it just goes from there. Can she stop counting long enough to live a normal life and enjoy the things around her, or will it all prove to be too much for her to handle? This is a sweet and funny novel about learning to love life and accept people’s individuality. A surprisingly light read in spite of its subject matter, but one that will no doubt stick with you long after you turn the final page. 02/09 Becky Lejeune

Adios Muchachos by Daniel Chavarria: Winner of the 2002 Edgar Award for Best Original Paperback. A delightful robbery/murder caper set in contemporary Havana where the characters do what they have to do to survive and do it with gusto, humor and Latin style. The main character is a young woman who decides that her best asset is the way she sits on a bicycle. She then proceeds to peddle that asset all over town. Some reviewers have described her as a “bicycle hooker,” but I think that is a little harsh. She likes men and she appreciates presents. The mechanics of the transactions are hilarious and involve her mother cooking dinner for the chosen client. They ultimately enmesh her in dealing with the worlds of high finance, high crime and treasure on the high seas. Also, a phallic totem. If you enjoy this book, I also recommend that you do a bookstore search for anything by Paco Ignacio Taibo II. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin

THE AFFAIR by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back and this time he’s way back – it’s 1997, right before he leaves the Army, and we finally learn why he did, why he started drifting, and why he carries that toothbrush in his pocket. MP Reacher is sent undercover to a small Mississippi town with an Army base to act as counterpoint to the MP on base who is investigating a woman’s murder. The army wants the soldiers cleared, and they want Reacher to make sure that happens. But Reacher wants to make sure justice is served, and finds more bodies than any small town should have. Child doesn’t disappoint with some nice twists in the story, but this story is all about backstory, and here Child really excels. If you haven’t read this series, you certainly could start here, but I think it is a more poignant read to those who are already invested in this character. An excellent addition to one of my favorite series. 10/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE AFFAIR by Lee Child: If you are old enough to have enjoyed Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In on television during the late 1960’s you will remember Arte Johnson who closed each show with his German soldier in the palms and his catchphrase: “Verrrry interesting, but…[‘stupid’, ‘not very funny’, and other variations]” Verrrry interesting describes Child’s latest which goes back to the beginning when Jack Reacher was still a military cop. Carter Crossing, Mississippi. 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A coverup. An investigation spinning out of control. Hard to say more without spoilers. Let me just agree with the Washington Post – “With Reacher, #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child has created “a series that stands in the front rank of modern thrillers.” 12/11 Jack Quick

THE AFFINITY BRIDGE by George Mann: In this alternate Victorian England, Queen Victoria is kept alive through technology and her devoted investigators, like Maurice Newbury, serve as her eyes and ears in the city. A recent plague of zombie virus brought over from India is sweeping through the nation and a murderer seems to be on the loose in Whitechapel. But it’s a recently crashed dirigible that the Queen has asked Newbury and his newly hired assistant, Veronica Hobbes, to look into. Strangely, the Whitechapel murders and the wrecked zeppelin seem to be closely connected, but it will take Newbury’s and Hobbes’s skills together to solve the cases. Steampunk definitely lends itself well to blending with other genres and this mix with traditional mystery works fantastically. I’m looking forward to future adventures with Hobbes and Newbury. 02/11 Becky Lejeune

AFRAID by Jack Kilborn: When a helicopter crashes in the small town of Safe Haven, Wisconsin, the townspeople find themselves up against an enemy like nothing anyone has ever seen. Sheriff Arnold “Ace” Streng is a Vietnam vet and even he has never witnessed the brutality that his town will soon be facing. When he receives a call about the crash, Ace heads out to the site only to find his own cousin being tortured and the man’s wife butchered. The men behind this seem to want one thing and one thing only. They want to know where Warren is. It only takes Ace a minute to realize who they seek, but figuring out exactly why and how to rid his town of these enemies will take a bit longer. Jack Kilborn is a pseudonym for author JA Konrath, the man behind the Jack Daniels mystery series. This stand-alone thriller is a bit of a change of pace for Konrath, but is fast-paced and excellently plotted — extremely hard to put down. 04/09 Becky Lejeune

AFRAID OF THE DARK by James Grippando: This is the ninth entry in the Jack Swyteck series, and this book takes a turn out of Miami for international waters with a secret interrogation cell in Prague, Somali terrorists in London and murders back home in Miami. Swyteck is tapped to represent Jamal Wakefield as he stands accused of murdering his teenage girlfriend and blinding a cop in the process. Jamal insists he is innocent and that he wasn’t even in Miami when the murder occurs. To add complications to this already complicated story, Swyteck’s FBI fiancée is warning him off the case, despite their agreement to not get involved in each other’s work, and defense witnesses keep turning up dead. Grippando uses headline makers like terrorism and mistreatment of political prisoners to up the tension in this tightly written thriller of revenge. 03/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

AFRAID OF THE DARK by James Grippando: Miami criminal defense attorney Jack Swyteck has a case right our of today’s headlines. Jamal has a good job working on encryption projects for the computer industry. Then he is accused of killing McKenna, the daughter of his boss Chuck May and setting off a bomb that blinded Sergeant Vince Paulo of the Miami police, a friend of Chuck’s who had been keeping an eye on McKenna for her father. Paulo was also instrumental in an earlier hostage negotiation involving Swyteck. It seemed an open and shut case since McKenna, bleeding to death in Paulo’s arms had uttered the name of her murderer and ex-boyfriend: Jamal. But then the story gets really interesting. Jamal is located at the detention center at Gitmo where he spent the past two years. At the time of the murder he claims he had been abducted and taken to a CIA secret prison in Prague where his abductors had tried to get him to reveal the secrets of the computer work he was doing and had threatened to kill McKenna if he didn’t cooperate. The far-fetched story starts to gain traction and Vince, Jack, and Chuck soon realize they are facing a deadly danger that goes beyond McKenna’s death and crosses international waters. Embarking on a journey to piece together the past, the men are led through the back alleys of London, onto illegal internet sites, and straight into pure evil. IMHO, the best Grippando yet. 04/11 Jack Quick

AFTER HOURS AT THE ALMOST HOME by Tara Yellen: It’s Super Bowl Sunday and the Broncos are playing. It’s going to be the busiest day of the year for Denver’s Almost Home Bar and Grill which means that it’s the worst possible day for a new girl to start, and for one of the bar’s seasoned employees to disappear. Denny was leaving after his shift and is forced to work a double thanks to Marna’s untimely no-show. JJ has never waitressed before and everyone is giving her a hard time. Keith was supposed to leave with Marna but hasn’t heard a word from her. Marna also promised a special day with Colleen’s daughter Lily, neither of which have heard from her either. The staff makes it through the day, and closes up shop, but that’s when things get really interesting at the Almost Home. Everyone who’s ever had to work in the service industry can relate to Yellen’s tale. Anyone who has ever had doubts about what comes next in life, whether the decisions they make are the right ones and if everything will work out in the end, will connect with at least one of the characters in this book. It’s that combination of the quirky dysfunctional family situation that occurs in any workplace and the instances of self-doubt that everyone suffers that collide in this earnest literary debut. After creating such a resonating story in After Hours at the Almost Home, Yellen will surely be one to watch in literary circles for years to come. 04/08 Becky Lejeune

AFTERSHOCK by Collin Wilcox: Lt. Frank Hastings has problems. His newest case is the murder of a wealthy 70-year-old woman, found bludgeoned in the garage of her San Francisco, Sea Cliff district home. There is no shortage of suspects, within and outside the victim’s dysfunctional family. In the meantime, Hastings’ girl friend Ann Haywood is being stalked, apparently in connection with a previous Hastings case. Can Frank stay focused and solve both crimes? Another great police procedural from the 1970’s. 1/11 Jack Quick

AGAINST ALL ENEMIES by James B. Woulfe: The Longest Day is the term used to describe June 6, 1994, the day the Allies stormed ashore at Normandy in World War II. The longest book may be an appropriate sub-title for this tell all whether you want to know it or not fiction debut about a future war in South America against drug dealing revolutionaries who are contributing to global warming, world wide inflation, and various and other sundryr crimes and misdemeanors. You will learn more than your ever cared to about SEALS and submarines, Rangers and various color berets, female pilots who become POW’s, Air Force Commandos, and that is just a start. Somewhere there is a story here, but I could never really get into it because of the highly detailed technical picture drawn of all the special troops and gadgets available to the US fighting forces today. Sorry, it’s a new era and not one I want to be in. 11/09 Jack Quick

AGAINST THEIR WILL by Nancy L. Livingstone: Matt Grayson is flying home to Houston after his first movie opens to great reviews. The plane crashes upon approach and Grayson’s life is changed forever. He thinks he has saved the life of his seatmate, Lynn McCane, but when he recovers consciousness in the hospital he is told he was the only survivor of the plane crash, and that all passengers and crew have been accounted for. Months later, Lynn shows up at Matt’s movie studio in Hollywood, with a new name and no memory of the plane crash. Matt gets her to go for coffee with him and tries to talk with her about the crash. Within hours they are atop the FBI’s Most Wanted List and are being pursued, it seems, by every government agency except Fish and Wildlife. Scary medical thriller from 2002, which brings new meaning to stem cell research and cloning. e-book. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

AIRTIGHT by David Rosenfelt: Second Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Judge Daniel Brennan is just days away from appointment when he is found murdered in his driveway. Nationwide attention is focused on the case, the Feds move in but New Jersey detective Luke Somers lands a hot tip that druggie Steven Gallagher may be the killer. Gallagher is armed and in the heat of the moment, Somers kills him and becomes a national hero. Steven’s brother Chris, home on leave from his elite Marine Force Recon unit, is outraged and determined to prove his brother’s innocence. He kidnaps Somer’s brother and threatens to kill him unless Luke finds the real killer within seven days. Somers starts digging and uncovers a slew of conflicting information, but he is not sure if it will be enough to save his brother. The tension is palpable and the pages fly by in this riveting standalone thriller from the author of the Andy Carpenter mystery series. The voice here is just as engaging, with enough humor to lighten the story without diminishing the suspense, and the ending is a real shocker. Sure to appeal to fans of Harlan Coben and Robert Crais. 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission. 

AIRTIGHT by David Rosenfelt: Rosenfelt is the author of a series of books about his lawyer creation Andy Carpenter as well as stand alone novels. Luke Somers is a police lieutenant in New Jersey. He is among the many law enforcement officers mobilized when Judge Daniel Brennan is found stabbed to death in his home. Brennan was about to take his newly earned seat in the second court of appeals when he was killed. Following one of the many tips called in, Luke finds and shoots to death Steven Gallagher who has enough incriminating evidence in his home to be blamed for Judge Brennan’s murder. Case closed and Luke becomes a hero to a public anxious for rapid closure in the killing. But wait, Steven, had a brother, Chris Gallagher, who is a force recon marine serving in Afghanistan who returns home looking for answers to Steven’s death. He decides to kidnap Luke’s brother Bryan, imprison him in an old bomb shelter and give Luke 6 1/2 days to find the real killer of Judge Brennan and exonerate Steven. Bryan is imprisoned with an air supply lasting only the 6 1/2 days and no more. Luke must take up the challenge even with his own belief that he killed the real murderer of the Judge. He must somehow convince Chris that whatever he finds is real in order to get him to release Bryan. The book is a page turner with the scene changing from one set of circumstances to another and bringing into play the oil and gas industries new drilling technique of fracking and the new found wealth that it could bring. Rosenfelt is certainly not a one dimensional writer relying only on the very popular Andy Carpenter but has proven in most of his stand alone books that his original ideas and character development make for very rewarding reading. Certainly another all-nighter for the reader. 3/13 Paul Lane

AIRTIGHT by David Rosenfelt: An eye for an eye, quickly becomes a brother for a brother. When Judge Daniel Brennan is gunned down New Jersey policeman Luke Somers is assigned the case. An anonymous tip leads him to Steven Gallagher, a drug addict about to be sentenced by Judge Brennan. When they go into Gallagher’s apartment he has a gun in hand. Somers reacts instinctively and shoots him dead. Now, Steven’s brother Chris Gallagher, who raised his brother, Steven, almost single-handedly, is certain that Steven is innocent. Chris, a Marine Recon Force member is one to be reckoned with. He kidnaps Luke’s own brother who will die if Luke refuses to help clear Steven’s name. Failure by Luke may lead to his brother’s death; success may lead to his own death. A good one.3/13 Jack Quick

ALEX CROSS’S TRIAL by James Patterson & Richard DiLallo: James Patterson has drafted a stable of advertising executives as writers for his books – seventeen of them coming up in the next three years. DiLallo is the latest and he puts a different spin on the usual Patterson fare by going back in time to the days of the Ku Klux Klan lynchings in Mississippi. The premise of this latest in the Alex Cross series is that Alex is writing a novel called “Trial,” based on stories that have been passed down in his family about Abraham Cross, an ancestor that lived in Eudora, Mississippi in the early 1900’s. Ben Corbett hails from Eudora but has become a lawyer in Washington DC who likes helping out the underdog. Unfortunately, the underdog often can’t pay and Ben’s wife is fed up with it. When President Teddy Roosevelt offers Ben a clandestine assignment to look into the lynchings, Ben goes to Mississippi alone; his wife won’t come. Ben finds that Eudora isn’t the same town he remembered, and his old friends aren’t the same either. Abraham Cross is an old man who has seen a lot, and he is Ben’s contact in Eudora. After they both escape being lynched, one young man is dead and the sheriff reluctantly arrests some of the town’s worst offenders – hence, the “trial”. This is an interesting look at a disturbing period of American history that is best remembered from time to time. Using the familiar two page chapters to move the story along makes this a fast paced and riveting read. 09/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch 

ALEX CROSS’S TRIAL by James Patterson: A book within a book. Alex Cross has heard the story of his great uncle Abraham and his struggles for survival in the era of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, Alex passes the family tale along to his own children in a novel he’s written called Trial. Ben Corbett is a Washington, DC lawyer during the Teddy Roosevelt era. Roosevelt asks Ben to return to his home town of Eudora Mississippi to investigate rumors of the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan there. Ben meets the wise Abraham Cross and his beautiful granddaughter, Moody, and enlists their help. The two Crosses introduce him to the hidden side of the idyllic Southern town complete with lynchings and other brutalities that have left the town’s black quarter in constant fear. Ben seeks the truth – not knowing the price the truth will cost him. Above average for a Patterson. 10/09 Jack Quick

THE ALEXANDER CIPHER by Will Adams: Daniel Knox is an American archaeologist turned dive instructor who is currently living in Egypt. A lifelong scholar of Alexander the Great, Daniel, along with Aussie partner, Rick, are on the trail of the massive golden funeral carriage used to bring his body back to Egypt in 323 BCE. Alexander’s power-hungry general, Ptolemy, stole Alexander’s body for his own purposes, and the funeral carriage vanished. The stakes quickly become higher when it appears possible they may be on the trail not of just the carriage, but of the actual body of Alexander the Great. Of course there are a few obstacle in Daniel and Rick’s path – Hassan, David’s rich Egyptian boss, whom Daniel beat up in order to keep him from raping a young woman; Hassan’s even nastier head of security, Nessim; Gaille Bonnard, the Egyptologist who blames Daniel for the death of her father’ and Nicolas Dragoumis, the wealthy industrialist whose own father seems oddly determined to ruin Daniel. With that many bad guys, the tale could easily become a farce, but Adams sticks to his guns and the result is a first rate thriller. 06/10 Jack Quick

THE ALEXANDRIA LINK by Steve Berry: In Berry’s second thriller featuring Cotton Malone, the antiquarian bookseller and retired secret agent must set aside all differences with his ex-wife in order to save his son from nefarious kidnappers. While working with the Magellan Billet, a government organization much like the CIA, Malone was assigned to protect and help hide George Haddad. Haddad was a scholar focused on the Old Testament and his theories threatened to shake the very foundations of Judaism as well as Christianity. His studies also garnered attention from a group called the Guardians, the members of which are sworn to protect the lost library of Alexandria. The Guardians extended an invitation to Haddad and challenged him to find the library. His quest would lead him to the most famous cache of knowledge known man, but the Mossad had already tracked and killed the last three invitees. The Billet sent Malone in with no knowledge of Haddad’s background, and today, Malone is the only person who knows where to find Haddad. This knowledge makes both Malone and his family prime targets for the numerous groups who will stop at nothing to find Haddad. Anyone looking for a great action/adventure thriller in the vein of The Da Vinci Code will love Berry’s work. He’s tackled everything from Russia’s rumored amber room to the Knights Templar and now focuses his attentions on Alexander’s library, which should segue perfectly into his upcoming release, The Venetian Betrayal, and the search for Alexander’s grave. 12/07 Becky Lejeune

Ali & Nino by Kurban Said: Re-release of a book originally published in 1937, the author is thought to be a pseudonym for the couple whose romance the book is loosely based on. Takes place at the turn of the 19th century, clash of cultures and religion. Definitely worth a read.  Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ALIAS MAN by Bill Pronzini: Jessie, a slender blonde Pennsylvania widow, meets a dream lover in Santa Fe who immediately asks her to marry him. Sarah, a slender blonde Vancouver bookstore owner, had her husband disappear just over four years ago leaving her in debt. Morgan, a slender blonde California schoolteacher, suspects her husband of just under four years of cheating on her as well as losing her money in poor investments. When she confronts him, he responds by leaving her. Then she finds a safe deposit box key in his study and uses it to uncover the secret of The Alias Man. Using his list of victims and aliases, and the cash she finds in the safe deposit box, she enlists Jessie and Sarah to help her. Together they track down the chameleon who for the past two decades has been marrying every four years, stealing that wife’s money, and then moving on to the next victim. An unusual Pronzini, but excellent as always. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

THE ALIBI MAN by Tami Hoag: Elena Estes (Dark Horse, 2002) moved from being among the elite of Palm Beach, Florida, to become a policewoman. After a meth lab bust that went bad causing the death of a fellow officer, she is now physically healed but still emotionally crippled. She is working at her best friend’s horse farm when she happens upon the body of the farm’s beautiful, vibrant young groom, Irena in a canal being savaged by alligators. She is determined to see Irena avenged and the path leads her back into the upper echelons of Palm Beach society, power brokers, polo fields, and her ex-fiancé, who, Elena knows, is capable of committing the crime. She also quickly learns that Russian born Irena may have led a more complicated life than Elena thought. Fast paced, with plenty of action Hoag moves easily from the beautiful to the ugly and captures the conflicting emotions of people hurting as well as anyone. Recommended.02/09 Jack Quick 

ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRLby  Peter Leonard: Peter Leonard has written a very tightly woven love story involving four characters in different areas of the world tied neatly together by circumstances. McCabe and his friend Chip are both students at an Italian university in Rome. McCabe is the first of the people involved in the love stories. He meets the beautiful Italian girl Angela in the normal way lovers meet. Angela and a group of gangsters kidnap him thinking that he is Chip, whose father, a US Senator is wealthy. He is released when Chip’s father pays the ransom asked, thinking that it is Chip being held. The other couple is Sharon and her husband Ray, a Secret Service agent released from the service. Sharon who has become bored with an existence that involves Ray’s constant absence due to duty with the service, and is having an affair with Joey Palermo, a Mafia enforcer. Ray comes home with the intention of making his constant absences up with Sharon and finds that she has decided to go to Italy with Joey, who has to leave the U.S due to Mafia pressures. Leonard has the ability to introduce and flesh out various characters in different areas and than tying their fates together through the progression of action he presents in the story. Events are shifted throughout the book between the characters and finally brought to a head in a very satisfying ending. The reader is swept forward and can’t put the book down until the end. This is the second Peter Leonard book I have read and am very anxiously awaiting the next one. 6/12 Paul Lane

ALL SEEING EYE by Rob Thurman: Imagine if you had the ability to see a person’s darkest secrets with just one touch. Jackson Lee Eye has that power. It began when he was just a kid, witnessing the final moments of his young sister’s life simply by touching an abandoned shoe. After that horrible event, he was orphaned and left to fend for himself. Now he makes a living taking advantage of his ability, but an unwelcome visit from a government agency soon forces him to take his power to another level. An experiment gone wrong has led to a number of murders and Jackson seems to be the only chance anyone has in stopping it. Each time I read one of Thurman’s books I’m a bit surprised at how dark they are. All Seeing Eye is no exception featuring a number of crime scenes filled with cannibals and psycho killers – and even some questionable BBQ. I wouldn’t want to hang out in the twisted depths of Thurman’s mind though it does make for a great paranormal thriller. 3/13 Becky Lejeune

ALICE IN JEOPARDY by Ed McBain: Alice Glendenning oversleeps. She is still grieving for her husband who disappeared off his boat 8 months ago. Late to work at the real estate agency where she has yet to sell a house, she calls her lawyer and the insurance company still refuses to pay off, later she gets hit by a car and has her ankle broken. When she gets home her children aren’t there. They have been kidnapped and the ransom demand is for $250,000 : the exact amount due from her insurance. Maybe she should have stayed in bed. McBain proves once again that he can spin a tale without or without the help of the 8thPrecinct boys. A good one. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

ALL NECESSARY FORCE by Brad Taylor: This is the second book in an undoubtedly projected series about a secret cadre of elite service people serving outside the pale of normal military operations. They are known as the Task force and report to an oversight group consisting of leading public figures headed by the president of the United States. Their missions are set by the steering committee and must conform to professional standards which include attempting to respect the laws and traditions of the countries they operate in. Most of the Task Force consists of military personnel, although they have their own intelligence group, medical people and other necessary support groups as back up for the clandestine operations. While there are many books coming out today delineating the undercover wars against our terrorist enemies, All Necessary Force has one overriding feature which takes it from the ordinary into the obviously superior. The author, Brad Taylor, is a 24 year veteran of army special forces troops, retiring as a Lt Colonel commanding those forces. He also ended his career as an assistant Professor of Military Science at the Citadel in South Carolina. He has literally been there and done that. His descriptions of the thoughts, feelings and reactions of the characters in the books provides a great insight into people placed in kill or be killed positions brings the reader right into the narrative. And with Col Taylor’s background these reactions are surely right on. Pike Logan is a former special forces soldier forced out of the military by events in the first book of the series – One Rough Man. In that book he met Jennifer Cahill who forced him back into the world of the Task Force and has begun to supply a romantic interest that does nothing but make Pike more human and less a killing machine. Jennifer is indoctrinated into the Task Force, and becomes a part of their combat team. She has doubts about the nature of the combat operations but manages to look at what they do as a necessary evil in a world with enemies of our country. The target is a group of Islamic terrorists bent on a debilitating attack on the United States. Actions run from Eastern Europe where the terrorists pick up explosives for use in their projected action into the US, where the Task Force is not supposed to operate and into the US area which will come under attack. The narrative keeps the reader involved with the characters, their actions and of course reactions to events. The reader of this book is going to be waiting anxiously for the next in the series. 2/12 Paul Lane 

ALL THE FLOWERS ARE DYING by Lawrence Block: Scudder tries to help a fellow AA member who has attracted a mysterious boyfriend. Then his wife Elaine’s best friend is brutally murdered, with a letter opener purchased from Elaine. Is there a connection? Like Small Town, this book is set in New York City post 9/11 and seems darker and more brooding than previous Scudders. While AA is and should be the dominant force in the former practicing alcoholic’s life, sometimes this gets in the way of story flow, i.e., I don’t need the address and time of every AA meeting in New York. What would make a great series? TJ from Block and Tamara from Pronzini working together. Recommended. 05/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick. 

ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS by J. T. Ellison: A ruthless serial killer has been stalking young women in the southeast. Dubbed the Southern Strangler, he has left a grisly trail of dead coeds in his wake. Each girl has had her hands removed, one of which will be found at the following crime scene, and each subsequent victim goes missing the same day the previous victim is found. When the body of the third victim is discovered in Nashville, Lieutenant Taylor Jackson is called to the scene. Her involvement with FBI agent John Baldwin leaves her privy to certain details of the case, even after it leaves her jurisdiction, and leads to a disturbing discovery. The killer has been e-mailing clues to a well-known reporter in the Nashville area – clues that could finally lead to the discovery of his identity. Meanwhile, Jackson has other problems to deal with including a rapist who has recently attacked the lead investigator on the Rainman case. To make matters even worse, there appears to be a leak within the Bureau and there are whispers of corruption amongst Nashville’s finest. Ellison writes like a pro – her details are dead on, her plot is engrossing, and her characters are engaging. This masterful debut is sure to keep readers up all night in suspense. I highly recommend All the Pretty Girls (first in a new series with books two and three set for release in 2008). 11/07 Becky Lejeune

ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS by J.T. Ellison: Nashville homicide detective Taylor Jackson and her erstwhile boyfriend FBI Agent John Baldwin are on the trail of a serial killer, who targets pretty young girls for death and then leaves a grisly trademark. He removes the hands of his victims and at each murder site leaves one of the hands of his previous victim. Somewhat uneven, as most debuts are, but the seeds are here for what could be an interesting series. While there is no shortage of female detectives, private or official, Jackson is interesting. Hopefully, as the series develops it will become more focused and straight forward.04/09 Jack Quick

THE ALMOST MOON by Alice Sebold: The Lovely Bones was brilliant, so it was with great expectation and some trepidation that I began Sebold’s latest. The opening is quite the grabber: “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.” Another difficult subject for sure, but unfortunately, this story of matricide quickly becomes tedious. Helen has difficult relationships in her life; besides her Alzheimer’s afflicted mother, there is the ex-husband and her children. The book spans the course of one day, a mere 24 hours, yet seems so much longer than that, perhaps because it is missing the emotional wallop promised with that opener. 10/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ALMOST MOON by Alice Sebold: After reading Lovely Bones and Lucky, I was excited to read Almost Moon. My excitement didn’t last very long. Almost Moon is the tale of Helen Knightly, a divorced mother of two grown daughters. Her father having died decades earlier, it is up to Helen to take care of her emotionally abusive agoraphobic mother. Throughout the book the reader flashes back to episodes portraying the strained relationship she had with her mother. The first several chapters of the book were engaging. Helen can no longer take the strain and frustration of dealing with her mother, so she smothers her with a kitchen towel. The reader is then lead through Helen’s ritual of stripping and bathing her mother, then pulling her down the basement steps and putting her in the oversized freezer. A little out there, yes, but completely plausible. The remainder of the book goes downhill quickly and I completely lost interest. Almost Moonmight be a good book for those readers that haven’t read any of Sebold’s other work, and therefore have nothing to compare it to. But a diehard Sebold fan will definitely be disappointed with this one, as I was. 05/08 Jennifer Lawrence

ALONE IN THE CROWD by Luis Alfredo Garcia-Roza: Garcia-Roza’s latest, Alone in the Crowd, is about as good a psychological mystery as I have read in a long, long time. It is not a thriller, but rather a psychological study of a very strange bank teller who the good Inspector Spinosa knew when they were both boys playing soccer in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The story begins like a James Joyce day in the life of an ordinary person story. The ordinary person in this case is an elderly lady, Dona Laureta Sales Ribiero. She spends most of the day waiting at her bank to withdraw her pension money. Then she goes to the grocery store, the pharmacy and the police station. At the station, she asks for the Chief and is advised that Inspector Spinosa is in a meeting but will be available later. She says that she will come back after dinner and leaves. Before she can return, she is run over by a bus. Like Sherlock Holmes, Spinosa is quick to sense the possibility of a crime before there is clear evidence of a murder to others. His investigation quickly centers on the teller at the bank, one Hugo Breno. Breno is a loner, who for reasons known best to himself, feels safest in a crowd. Spinosa eventually remembers their acquaintance as children and the remainder of the story is the way in which these two characters come to understand each other. And, as always in Garcia-Roza’s books, there is more than one puzzle for the reader. In this case, one side-puzzle is the behavior of Spinosa’s girl friend, Irena and her friend Vania. Although I would not classify this novel as a “thriller,” it does have an exciting finish. I am an unabashed fan of both Garcia-Roza and Inspector Spinosa and recommend this highly. 08/09 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

ALPHA by Greg Rucka: Marshall Karp gave us The Rabbit Factory, home of Rambunctious Rabbit and his Familyland theme park. Chris Grabenstein took us through all the Jersey Coast thrill rides, and now Greg Rucka brings us face to face with a nightmare at Wilsonville theme park. Retired Delta Force operator, Master Sergeant Jonathan “Jad” Bell, is Wilsonville’s lead undercover security officer. The threat begins with the announcement of a hidden dirty bomb, but quickly becomes something far, far worse. Jad’s daughter is one of the people caught up in the ensuing hostage situation. Definitely white-knuckle time. 10/12 Jack Quick

ALPHA by Rachel Vincent: The war that’s been brewing between the Prides has finally arrived. Just days after the events of Shift, Faythe and her Pride are ready to present undeniable proof that Calvin Malone has been manipulating and using the Council to suit his own needs, and at the expense of everyone else. But with the Council split between support for Malone and support for Faythe’s father, even now the task at hand seems impossible. The only option left is to fight to the death and hope that the good guys come out on top. It will mean losing some of their own but if the battle is lost altogether, it will mean much, much worse for Faythe and her family. In the midst of it all, Faythe’s own role with the Pride will change and she will finally have to decide who will lead alongside her: Jace or Marc. I’m sad to see the series go. With five books to build up the action and just one to tie it all up, I’m left wanting more from the story. I’m not sure what Vincent has planned next, but I’ve not doubt it’ll be great. 10/10 Becky Lejeune

Altar Music by Christin Lore Weber: A fascinating look at Catholicism and sex written by one who knows, an ex-nun. The story follows three generations of women and how their religion affected their lives. This book shows the darker side of the convent, as well as the personal damage that can be done in the name of God. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch 

ALWAYS SAY GOODBYE by Stuart M. Kaminsky: Sarasota, Fla., process server and occasional PI Lew Fonesca finally feels up to begin tracking down the hit-and-run driver who killed his wife, Catherine, a prosecutor in Chicago four years earlier. Hardly has he landed at Midway airport when Lew finds himself between two warring assassins-for-hire who believe Catherine had compiled a file of evidence against them that Lew now has. Chicago is obviously colder and more dangerous than Sarasota but this is something Lew has to do to move forward with his life. The fifth in the series, each one is better than its predecessor. 12/06 Jack Quick

THE AMATEURS by Marcus Sakey: Sakey writes these intense thrillers about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and he’s one of my favorite writers. The Amateurs is his latest foray into the genre, and here he looks at what makes people do the things that they do – especially when they know they are wrong. In this case, a group of casual drinking buddies, a couple of whom have pressing financial needs, decide to add a little excitement and money into their lives by robbing the owner of the bar they hang out in. But what seems like a lark turns much deadlier very quickly. Mitch is a hotel bellman with low self esteem and an unrequited crush on Jenn, the only girl in the group. Jenn’s a looker, but she’s just bored with life and being a good girl. She wants an adventure. Ian is the most successful of the group, but he’s also a compulsive gambler with big debt to the wrong people. Alex is the bartender where they hang out, and a single father who’s ex is planning to move cross country with his daughter. When Alex tells his friends that he saw a big cash delivery to his big shot boss, they decide to steal it. Jenn will get her adventure, Alex and Ian the cash they need, and Mitch gets his chance to impress Jenn. They cook up what seems like the perfect plan, but of course it goes awry; after all, they are complete amateurs at crime. Sakey creates believable characters in this heartbreaking story of good guys gone bad. 08/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon: This year’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel is the beautifully written story of two men growing up together in New York. With WW2 at their backs, this historical look at the 20th century captivates the reader by introducing us to the golden age of the comic book. Their adventures in creating a comic book hero makes for a most compelling read. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

The Amber Room by Steve Berry: If you’re looking for something after the Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown has a blurb on the cover,) this could be your book. A fascinating blend of history and suspense involving the Amber Room, whose walls were made of the precious stone which was carved into artistic panels and was looted from Catherine’s Palace in St. Petersburg by the Nazis during WWII. A judge from Georgia inherits some cryptic letters from her father after his death, including the ominous warning that whatever she does, she shouldn’t look for the Amber Room. So of course she does, and her ex-husband ends up chasing after her to Germany. A couple of assassins are leaving a trail of bodies, while this secret society of art collectors tries to zero in on the find of the century. It was impossible to put down this fast paced treasure hunt.  Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE AMBITION by Lee Strobel: Only in Chicago – the mob, crooked politicians, old time newspaper guys, and a mega-church pastor turned politician. Strobel ties them all together in a tale that wanders all over the map before reaching a biting climax. It starts with a fourth generation O’Sullivan, a down-on-his-luck lawyer with a gambling problem. When he must bribe a federal; judge in connection with an upcoming mob trial, he secretly tapes the exchange. Later, the dirty judge becomes a finalist for an open U.S. Senate seat. His challenger is Eric Snow, a dot-com millionaire who found religion and founded Diamond Point, a massively successful evangelical Christian group. Think Mark Cuban investing in God rather than the Dallas Mavericks. Newspaper reporter Garry Strider is the glue who ties it all together as he threatens to uncover both candidates’ secrets in an investigation that may cost him his life. If you enjoy Michael T. Harvey’s portrayal of the Windy City, you will likely want to add Strobel to your reading list as well. 08/11 Jack Quick

AMERICAN SKIN by Ken Bruen: Only Bruen could take a fairly routine plot about bank robbers disagreeing over the disposition of the loot and take it into totally new territory. The key players are Stephen Blake who has the money, and whose girlfriend, Siobhan, knows how to launder it, John A. Stapleton, hit man for the IRA, who thinks 100% is a fair share and Dade, so psychotic he hits meth to enjoy movies and is obsessively devoted to the music of Tammy Wynette. Is this literature for the ages? Probably not, but what a helluva read. If you are a Bruen fan, go get it. If you are not a Bruen fan, still go get it. You will become one.10/06 Jack Quick

AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld: Touted as a lightly fictionalized Laura Bush story, the author even includes a note stating that while names may have been changed, the people you recognize are, in fact, the people you think they are. That said, the Bush marriage has always puzzled me, and apparently a lot of other people too. This is the story of how a smart, pretty, hard working middle class librarian ended up married to a wealthy member of a political dynasty who achieved the Presidency of the United States, while often being perceived as a bumbling fool if not worse. I vaguely remember hearing about a car accident that Laura Bush was involved in, and this book pivots on that event. Alice Lindgren of small town Riley, Wisconsin, is a teenager when she runs a stop sign and kills a classmate. While never formally charged, this event affects the rest of her life. Alice is naive but sure of herself enough to be particular in who she dates. When she meets Charlie Blackwell, he charms her enough to sweep her off her feet and they marry within a few months. It takes her years to realize what even his own family knows; that he is lazy, bungling and a bit of an idiot. Alice feels that with her smarts and organizational skills, she can help Charlie meet his destiny, and she does, first as he buys a baseball team, then during his run for Governor and finally the White House. Fast reading for the most part and always interesting, especially the early parts of coming of age in a small town and even the marriage, but the ending was really over the top, bordering on ridiculous. 10/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

AMMUNITION by Ken Bruen: In this seventh Sergeant Brant outing, our hero is in a London pub brooding about the death of his idol, real-life author Ed McBain, when a gunman opens fire and then disappears. (Eats, shoots and leaves?) Although hit a number of times, he survives and to the dismay of criminals and cops alike he is soon back on the job, crankier than ever, and vowing revenge. Concurrently, Sergeant Falls and constable McDonald, key players in the previous adventures are having their own problems – Falls with a psycho named Angie and McDonald with the powdered white lady. It’s a train wreck in progress but somehow it all comes to a satisfactory end. 01/08 Jack Quick

THE ANALYST by John Katzenbach: Dr. Frederick Starks, a New York psychoanalyst, has adjusted to life as a single man during the three years since the death of his wife. His practice is successful and if asked, he would probably say he is content. All this explodes with a letter delivered on his fifth third birthday “Happy fifty third birthday, Doctor. Welcome to the first day of your death.” Suddenly he is in the middle of a horrific game designed by a man who calls himself Rumplestiltskin. The rules: in two weeks, Starks must guess his tormentor’s identity. If Starks succeeds, he goes free. If he fails, Rumplestiltskin will destroy, one by one, fifty-two of Dr. Starks’ loved ones—unless the good doctor agrees to kill himself. In a blistering race against time, Starks’ is at the mercy of a psychopath’s devious game of vengeance. He must find a way to stop the madman—before he himself is driven mad. Intense. 8/12 Jack Quick

ANATOMY OF FEAR: A Novel of Visual Suspense by Jonathan Santlofer: This has to be one of the most exciting new books to come out in a long time. Santlofer brings considerable skills to his latest endeavor, as both an emerging talent over the past few years as a thriller writer, as well as a life long career as a significant artist, with work represented in various museums. Graphic novels have gained significant popularity in the past few years, along with a healthy new respect – these are not your childhood comic books anymore. Now that respect for the illustration is transcending into other genres. In his latest novel, Santlofer combines his story with his art in the character of Nate Rodriguez, a police sketch artist of some renown. But this is no graphic novel; it is a thriller that happens to have an occasional illustration born out of Nate’s work that tends to help the reader visualize the story as well as propel the story forward. Nate is an interesting character; half Puerto Rican and half Jewish, and he uses both his heritages to his advantage. A serial killer is on the loose in New York City, leaving drawings of each murder victim at the scene of the crime. NYPD Homicide Detective Terri Russo thinks highly of Nate’s skills, and convinces her bosses to let him help out with the case. Meanwhile, Nate’s abuela, his Puerto Rican grandmother who dabbles in Santeria, is having vivid dreams that are somehow tied to the murders. Between his grandmother’s visions and his own visions, and the clues the police are able to obtain, Nate’s drawings are honing in on the murderer. This is a page turner of the finest kind, and the illustrations just ratchet the tension up a notch. I loved this book and ripped through it in one night, sadly turning the last page – I didn’t want it to end, and I hope we will see more of this character. 04/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ANCIENT LAWS by Jim Hansen: I have been a fan of the Laws series from the outset. Business interests and relatives in Denver have permitted me to spend enough time there that I feel I know the city. (If you visit the city, get someone to direct you to Gordo’s for great Mexican food served family style.) Situated between the fertile flat farmlands and the United States version of the Alps, Denver has always been a quirky place where women wearing boots attract less attention than men wearing ties. Jim Hansen has managed to capture this spirit completely. Bryson Coventry, his 34 year old serial womanizing, pickup truck driving, coffee drinking fanatic head of Denver’s homicide unit fits perfectly into the local scene. In this, the 8th of the Laws series, however, Coventry is away from his native Denver tracking a lead on a year-old murder. In Paris, he meets detective Ja’Venn Le Rue, whom Hansen advises will ultimately be the subject of her own Edge series. If they come even close to the quality of Laws, they will be great. In the meantime Coventry and Le Rue are pulled into a deadly game that will lead them from Paris to Cairo to the Valley of the Kings, a game involving ancient tombs, lost treasures, and archeological murders. 09/09 Jack Quick

AND EVERY MAN HAS TO DIE by Frank Zafiro: Another excellent police procedural about the men and women of the River City Police Department. Rookie B. J. Carson and the rest of the force are coping with a new threat. Russian gangster Valerity has big plans and is willing to do whatever it takes to make them a reality. Other gangs are dangerous and even deadly, but none as as ruthless as the Russians who think nothing of setting fire to homes with women and children as a way of proving their point. Instead of offering “protection” to businesses, they simply take them over and leave the former owner to run the business profitably or die. After all, to them, the American jail system is like summer camp, compared to what they previously faced in Russia. Zafiro is not yet in a class with Ed McBain but he is getting better with each outing. 05/11 Jack Quick NOTE: Kindle only

AND ONLY TO DECEIVE by Tasha Alexander: In the opening title of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series, the newly widowed Lady Ashton finds herself embroiled in a mystery involving stolen antiquities. Emily was under no illusion that she was in love with her husband, but when he died quite suddenly after their nuptials, she was disheartened to realize that she knew little about the man. As she learns more about the deceased Philip Ashton, she begins to quite like him. Imagine her surprise when she begins to suspect that he may have been involved in some shady dealings with Greek and Roman antiques. And some unsavory characters have noted her interest as well. I needed a bit of a refresher now that the series is six books in and found my return to Lady Emily just as enjoyable as my introduction. Readers who enjoy smart period mysteries will love Alexander’s clever plots and playful writing. 12/11 Becky Lejeune 

AND SHE WAS by Cindy Dyson: This is a fantastic debut set in the Aleutian Islands in the mid 1980’s. When Brandy follows her boyfriend to this remote setting, she is left to her own devices as he ships off to sea on a fishing trawler. She manages to find work at one of the toughest bars in the world. Here, one of her favorite pastimes – collecting bathroom graffiti – causes her to get embroiled in a mystery of sorts that spans generations. Paralleling Brandy’s tale is that of three women and their female ancestors. In the 1700’s when explorers discover these remote islands, the men of the Aleutian society leave to protect their homes against the invaders. While the men are off fighting, the women and children are forced to fend for themselves. As hunting is a men’s task and all the men are gone, food is becoming scarce. Three women are forced to take matters into their own hands and in doing so they leave themselves open to being banished from their society. This is a story of self discovery and growth as well as one that gives insight to cultural differences and taboos. And She Was is a truly amazing read that I cannot recommend highly enough. Dyson’s writing is impeccable and the story will appeal to a very broad audience. 12/06 Becky LeJeune

AND THEN SHE FELL by Stephanie Laurens: This is part of Laurens’ Cynster series. Henrietta is known as the “Matchbreaker” because she’s willing to tell the truth when asked. Her brother’s best friend, James Glossup, is wooing a friend, but Henrietta knows he has to marry within a month or lose his inheritance. That bit of info causes the demise of that relationship, and James is quite put out. After he explains the situation, Henrietta feels bad and decides to become a matchmaker and help him find a bride quickly. But spending all that time together finds them falling in love, but neither will admit it as the matchmaking continues. Another enjoyable Regency romance from Laurens. 5/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD by Laura Lippman: To her neighbors, Heloise Lewis would appear to be an everyday, average single mother. In fact, some even seem to be jealous of her ability to handle everything life throws at her: son, work, home life, she seems to have it all under control. What they don’t know is that behind the façade, Heloise is actually a high-class prostitute with her own corral of working women. She’s careful about hiding her profession and not drawing attention to herself all the while doing the best she can to provide a stable and nurturing home for her son. Scott will never know what his mother actually does for a living and he’ll certainly never know the truth about his father, Heloise’s one-time pimp and incarcerated business partner. But when Heloise learns that Scott’s father could soon be released from prison, her carefully built world begins to crumble. Laura Lippman fans first met Heloise Lewis in Hardly Knew Her, the author’s short story collection released in 2008. Lewis proved to be a fascinating character and one that I was more than happy to return to here in And When She Was Good. All of Lippman’s characters are complex, but Heloise is by far one of my favorites. She’s so layered and is developed in a way that makes her seem completely realistic. While it’s not necessary to have read “One True Love” or Scratch a Woman (Heloise’s short and novella from Hardly Knew Her) the collection is a fantastic one and I’d highly recommend it as follow up reading for fans of And When She Was Good. 9/12 Becky Lejeune

ANGELOLOGY by Danielle Trussoni: The St. Rose convent in Milton, New York, has been home for Sister Evangeline since she was just twelve years old; the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration her family for over a decade. But Evangeline comes from a long line of Angelologists who have been studying and fighting the Nephilim for ages. Legend has it that the Watchers, God’s angels, were so enamored with human women, that they took them for wives. They were punished, imprisoned deep beneath the earth, where they still wait today. The Nephilim are their children: beings not wholly human and not wholly angel. The Nephilim are dangerous and vengeful creatures that have long fought humans for dominance on earth. But Evangeline knows none of this. When a request to search the convent’s archives for correspondence from Abigail Rockefeller piques Evangeline’s curiosity, she is thrown headfirst into a battle that began thousands of years ago, and the search for the one item that could give either side the advantage over the other. Angelology is as imaginative and exciting as Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian. A literary puzzle that unfolds with excellent precision, Trussoni’s fiction debut has it all: history, adventure, mythology, and a definite feeling that there will be more to come. 03/10 Becky Lejeune

THE ANGEL’S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: Zafón brings to life an eerie version of 1920s Barcelona in his second U.S. release. Readers will remember Sempere and Sons bookshop and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books from the author’s first release, The Shadow of the Wind. In Angel’s Game, author David Martin has been working for years writing penny-dreadfuls under a pseudonym. He longs for the recognition and respect deserving of a real author, however, and takes a commission from a strange man offering him unreal payment and favors in return. David, whose success prompted him to rent a foreboding home called The Tower House, has learned that there may be a deeper connection between himself and the previous owner of the home, a lawyer who left his business to write. As David digs into this man’s life and what led to his mysterious drowning, he begins to wonder what fate may await him at the end of his contract. Angel’s Game is very similar in many ways to Shadow of the Wind, but is no less magical a read. It’s one that begs to be savored and read slowly because, upon entering Zafón’s created world, you never want to leave. I’ve been waiting in great anticipation for Angel’s Game and was, obviously, not let down. I highly recommend that if you have not yet read Shadow of the Wind, you run out and buy both books now. 06/09 Becky Lejeune

ANGELS OF DESTRUCTION by Keith Donohue: Margaret Quinn leads a very lonely life. Ten years ago, her daughter ran off with her boyfriend, a revolutionary planning to join the Angels of Destruction. Just a few years later Margaret’s husband died leaving her all alone. But one night, in the wee hours, a young girl appears on Margaret’s doorstep. The girl, Norah, reminds Margaret so much of her lost daughter, that she allows Norah to stay. The two create a story in which Norah is Margaret’s granddaughter, left in her care by the missing daughter who returned just long enough to abandon the child. Norah’s presence is just what Margaret has been longing for all these years. When Norah begins disrupting her classroom and then the town itself with her talk of angels and apocalypse, cracks begin to form in their carefully plotted cover story. Is it possible that Norah really is an angel sent to answer Margaret’s prayers? Like Donohue’s debut, The Stolen Child, Angels of Destruction is a blend of fantasy and reality. It’s a tale of loneliness and forgiveness and of childlike faith. It’s touching and sweet and sticks with you long after you finish. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

ANGEL’S TIP by Alafair Burke: New York City rookie police detective Ellie Hatcher, first introduced in Dead Connection, is out doing her morning run when she runs into the dead body of a teenage girl who’d been strangled, stabbed and had her hair shorn. The nineteen year old blonde was visiting the Big Apple with friends and hitting all the clubs while on break from college, which creates a whirlwind of bad publicity for the city. NYPD breaks the case very quickly – or have they? Turns out there are some weird similarities to some cold cases that Hatcher’s deceased partner had been checking out, and she is unconvinced they have the right perp. When another young woman is killed in a similar fashion, even the hunky district attorney has to admit there are some problems with the case, and Hatcher is getting a very uneasy feeling that somehow it’s personal. Lots of suspense and plot twists galore keep the pages turning, but it’s the personal storylines about Hatcher, her boyfriend, her brother, and her partner that makes Angel’s Tip a winner. 8/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

ANGEL’S TIP by Alafair Burke: A first rate police procedural from the daughter of James Lee Burke. In this second Elli Hatcher outing, the newly assigned NYPD homicide detective is first on the scene at the discovery of the mutilated body of a college student. She and partner J.J. Rogan have an abundance is suspects that come into and then out of the picture as more evidence is unearthed that finally leads to a manhunt for a serial killer. Very nicely done and suspenseful to the end; let’s hope we continue to see more of Ms. Hatcher in the months and years ahead. Completely different from, but potentially as enduring as her dad’s Dave Robicheaux. 09/08 Jack Quick

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner: A big, sprawling novel of incredible description and complex characters. There are two stories going on here; the narrator of modern day writing a historical biography of his grandparents who helped settle the old West. Based on the life of Mary Hallock Foote, a writer and artist of the late 1800’s, Stegner combines her story with his imagination and comes up with a beautiful book. Winner of the 1971 Pulitzer Prize.  Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik: Five women, neighbors, meet in the early 1960’s in Minnesota and form the Freesia Court Book Club, but that name evolves into the Angry Housewives from a snide remark of the husband of one of the members. These women share their lives – their marriages, children, politics, and of course their love of reading, over the course of the next thirty-plus years. The characters are an interesting mélange of suburban housewives – Audrey, an independently wealthy woman who doesn’t leave home without baring her cleavage; Slip, the politically motivated feminist rebel; Faith, who has a past she’d rather forget; Kari, a slightly older widow who adopts a bi-racial baby; and Merit, the beauty who is married to the beast. Each chapter is written in the voice of the host (not hostess – Slip feels that feminizing nouns is demeaning to women), which begins each chapter, along with the book they are reading – which ranges from Love Story (they hated it) to The Total Woman (they really hated it – or was that me?) to On the Road (loved it) to A Confederacy of Dunces (thought provoking), along with the reason chosen or food served or highlight of the meeting, bringing a varying perspective to everything going on their lives and a nostalgic (for me) look back on the past few decades. This is obviously a book aimed at reading groups, yet it doesn’t come off as a commercial attempt at such, but rather a creative and fascinating look at the role of women over the last part of the twentieth century – the books are just an added bonus. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD by Kendare Blake: Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. NOT a ghostbuster, mind you. As his dad did before him, Cas tracks down vengeful spirits that continue to wreak havoc well beyond their end. An angry ghost can stick around for ages, killing unsuspecting folks who wander within their territory. A tip has led Cas to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and the ghost of Anna, a girl who died in the 1950s on the night of her high school dance. The locals call her Anna Dressed in Blood because of her once white gown now said to be drenched in her own blood for all eternity. In the years since Anna’s death, she has killed countless individuals who have stumbled upon her old home. Now Cas intends to send her where she belongs. But even after Anna kills another teen right in front of him, Cas finds himself unable to send her away. Never mind the fact that Anna inexplicably spared Cas, something about this ghost is different from those he’s met before. Cas finds himself strangely drawn to her and determined to learn her story. Anna Dressed in Blood is creepy and intriguing. Anna is just part of the story and I appreciated the secondary plot equally as much as Anna’s tale. I thought Blake did a fantastic job tying together all of the pieces. This is one that will definitely appeal to both teen and adult readers. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L. M. Montgomery: The 100th anniversary edition of this classic children’s book was released in 2008, and I finally took the time to read it. I’m sure I read it when I was a child, but that was thousands of books ago and while I remembered I enjoyed it, I didn’t remember much more. I loved it, probably more than I did as a child because my perspective is so different, and I couldn’t put it down. The writing is lovely, the characters fully realized, and Anne Shirley’s adventures at the Green Gables farm on Prince Edward Island in Canada is a marvelous story that deserves to live on for  hundreds of years more. 02/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ANNIVERSARY MAN by R.J. Ellory: John Costello survived the Hammer of God killings in 1984. His girlfriend did not. Ever since then, John has become obsessed with the why. Why do serial killers do what they do? What made him and Nadia a target? Why did he survive? He’s devoted his career to their study and is the only one to draw a connection between a recent series of murders in New York. When Detective Ray Irving is alerted to the fact that these seemingly random crimes are all exact copies of previous serial killers’ scenes, he is assigned as lead in the investigation. But the department wants to keep this one quiet and Irving will need Costello’s help to try and catch the killer before he strikes again. The Anniversary Man is just Ellory’s second release here in the States (he has seven titles available in the UK) and he’s quickly cementing himself as one of my favorites in the crime genre. His stories are dark and disturbing, his plots keep you guessing, and they never end quite like you think they will. 06/10 Becky Lejeune

THE ANNIVERSARY MAN by R.J. Ellory: No sophomore slump here, as Ellroy’s second is, IMHO, a much better outing than 2009’s A Quiet Belief in Angels. This is an excellent story with much tighter writing and a tremendous plot. NYPD Detective Ray Irving risks his code of ethics and, ultimately, his life to track down a serial killer who is imitating the crimes of some of the worst monsters our society has spawned. Newspaper researcher John Costello, a psychologically damaged survivor of the “Hammer of God” killer, becomes a prime source of information even though twenty years have passed since his traumatic event. Costello inevitably becomes Irving’s number-one resource as well as his number-one suspect. The resolution is breath-taking. Definitely recommended. 08/10 Jack Quick

ANOTHER LIFE by Andrew Vachss: From 1985’s Flood to this, the18th Burke adventure (touted as the last one), Burke is either a character you love or hate. It is hard to envision anyone being neutral about this outlaw soldier-of-fortune investigator. Another Life starts as gritty as ever – Revenge is like any other religion: There’s always a lot more preaching than there is practicing – and proceeds to several seemingly unconnected sequences. A sniper shoots Burke’s “father” and the family tries to save “the Prof” sans hospital. Next, a representative of the U.S. intelligence establishment draws Burke into a kidnapping case. . Early one morning, somebody removed the infant son of a Saudi prince from his father’s custom Rolls, parked near an abandoned pier near the Hudson River. A prostitute, who didn’t realize the child was in the back seat, was servicing the prince, at the time. If you liked Burke before you will enjoy this one, if not, this one won’t change your opinion. Me, I liked it. 01/09 Jack Quick

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST by Jennifer Rardin: The second book in the Jaz Parks series picks up mere months after Rardin’s debut, Once Bitten, Twice Shy, left off. After recovering from her battle with the Tor-al-degan, a being that would have brought about the end of humankind as we know it, Jaz and her team have been brought together again for a new mission. The powers that be at the CIA have sent the team to Corpus Christi, Texas, where they will be attending (and much to Jasmine’s chagrin, performing in) the town’s Winter Festival. An ancient Chinese vampire has stolen a top-secret weapon prototype and the team must recover it before it is too late. Chien-Lung, the vamp in question, has taken an experimental set of armor that bonds to its wearer making him or her nearly invincible. Chien’s plan is to amass an entire army outfitted with the stuff and set off the next world war. The team’s mission impossible becomes even more complicated when they discover that they are up against a new enemy known as reavers. The reavers have been sent by none other than the Raptor, the government official who was behind the events of their last mission. Then, to make matters even worse, Jaz has been suffering from some killer nightmares, literally. If you can imagine Buffy and her Scooby gang growing up to work for the CIA, you have some idea what is in store for you with this series. Rardin has picked up some serious speed with book two; the characters are interesting and the plots are exciting and original. This is definitely a series that has to be started from the beginning. 12/07 Becky Lejeune

ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART by Jane Green: I’ve heard rumors that chick lit was dead, and this book from one of the mothers of the genre proves it. Welcome to the world of Jane Green’s women’s fiction, and she makes the transition beautifully. Andi married late, at 37, and to a man with two daughters but nonetheless, she still longs for a child of her own. As the years pass and it doesn’t happen, Andi struggles to deal with it. Then her stepdaughter gets pregnant and the predictable happens. But with Green’s superb story telling skills, she somehow elevates the story beyond what it could have been into something a bit more special and thoroughly enjoyable; a good read. 4/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ANOTHER THING TO FALL by Laura Lippman: Baltimore is the temporary home of a big budget television series, which doesn’t please the locals as much as one would think. Tess Monaghan manages to ruin a day’s shooting while out rowing, and in the process finds herself the sought after security detail for Selene, the twenty-year-old star of the show. Strange things are happening on set, and Tess agrees to baby-sit providing the producers give Crow’s latest project, Lloyd, a job. The details are worked out, but when Tess is outsmarted by Selene, she is forced to bring in extra help. Then one of the production staff is murdered, and it seems like everyone on set is suspect, from the producers to the actors to the writers and the staff. The production of a television series is complicated business, and Lippman includes lots of Hollywood detail in this Charm City murder mystery. It’s an interesting story with a lot of characters, but unfortunately Tess is the only character that is fully fleshed out. Not Lippman’s best effort, but fans of the series will want to read it anyway. 04/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY by Lori Handeland: Elizabeth Phoenix is psychic who uses her abilities to help solve crimes for the Milwaukee Police Department. Lizzie’s foster mother, Ruthie, is found viciously murdered, and the police believe the killer to be Jimmy Sanducci, her former lover. Lizzie immediately begins the hunt to find Ruthie’s murderer, and soon discovers a world of demons, vampires, empaths, and shape-shifters. Lizzie’s investigating reveals a plot to enslave and destroy all humans. She discovers that Ruthie was a seer-an individual that could detect demons. When Ruthie died, Lizzie has inherited her powers. Lizzie also has the ability to “steal” the powers of others, but the method of obtaining such powers isn’t easy. ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY is a faced paced, action packed read, the first book in the Phoenix Chronicles. The storyline and slate of characters revealed in this book grab you from the beginning. The biblical aspect of the storyline was quite interesting and added another interesting spin to the story. The second installment of this series is scheduled to release in May 2009, which can’t come soon enough. 11/08 Jennifer Lawrence

ANY WHICH WAY BUT DEAD by Kim Harrison: This third book of the Hollows series starts off with a bang and never lets up. It begins with Rachel trying to find a way to outsmart the demon Big Al while still upholding her end of the bargain made in The Good, The Bad and The Undead that would make her his familiar and slave. She is successful, for the moment, but her trouble doesn’t end there. Her boyfriend Nick has been more than just a little distant lately, but Rachel is still surprised when he leaves for parts unknown claiming that he will be back in just a few months. Afraid that this means the end of their relationship, Rachel finds herself giving in to her attraction to Kisten, that hunky vampire that she can’t seem to avoid lately. Then, a powerful new boss arrives on the scene in Cincinnati and Rachel must do everything in her power to prevent him from taking over. Add to that the fact that she has managed to royally pissed off her pixy partner Jenks and that she’s been hired to protect the one elf that she absolutely despises and you get an absolutely hilarious and bewitching read. This series just keeps getting better and better and I can’t get enough. Kim Harrison is one of the best and the brightest in the urban fantasy genre. This is a series that is not to be missed. 04/07 Becky Lejeune

ANYA’S GHOST by Vera Brosgol: I am not a big graphic novel (AKA comic book) fan, but I keep trying them. This one came blurbed “A masterpiece!” by Neil Gaiman right on the cover so I gave it a shot – and I loved it. This is the story of Anya, a teenage Russian émigré who lives a fairly lonely, isolated existence. She goes to a private school and her only friend is another Russian immigrant who isn’t especially nice to her. She has an annoying little brother and a single mom who worries about her. One day Anya is wandering around alone when she falls into an old abandoned well. If that isn’t scary enough, there is a skeleton lying there beside her. As she screams for help, a ghost rises up from the skeleton and introduces herself as Emily. Emily tells Anya that she and her parents were murdered ninety years earlier. Anya is rescued, and Emily comes with her. The girl and the ghost become friends, until Anya decides to try and solve Emily’s murder. The story takes some creepy turns and nothing is as it first appeared to be. This is a fast read with a terrific story, interesting characters and subdued illustrations that perfectly serve the mood of the book. My 18-year-old daughter read it after I did, and also loved it, calling it “creepy and wonderful.” Anya’s Ghost is extremely well done, and is my new favorite graphic novel. Check out the book trailer, and if you’re curious as to how a graphic novel is written and illustrated, check out the author’s website Verabee. 06/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ANYBODY ANY MINUTE by Julie Mars: Women have mid-life crises too, as amply illustrated in this occasionally amusing, occasionally tiresome look at one such crisis. Ellen Kenny is a middle-aged hippie leftover from the sixties. This book is set in the 1980’s, primarily I think, to avoid the use of cell phones and to hammer home the point that Ellen was able to drive through a small town in upstate New York and buy a farm using the cash advance on her credit card. Even with the price of real estate falling through the floor these days, that just would not be possible today, unless you have really good credit, I guess. She moves to the ramshackle farm, and I’m being kind here, leaving her good looking, attorney husband alone in New York City while she tries to figure out what she is doing with her life. She meets some local folk who at first, appear to be the odd sort one would generalize about small town people, but it turns out they are gifted in their own ways, and share their gifts with Ellen. She ends up taking care of a neighbor’s dog and her sister’s baby, learning to take care of herself in the process. An interesting premise but just a little too cliché for me. 7/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ANYBODY OUT THERE by Marian Keyes: The lovable Walsh family (Angels, Watermelon) is back in Keyes’ newest endeavor, this time with Anna at center stage when she suffers serious injuries in a taxi accident in Manhattan and ends up recuperating at home with her parents in Dublin. But Anna has more to worry about: the escapades of her sister Helen, a private eye working for Irish gangsters; her best friend and her sorry romances; her sister Rachel’s upcoming nuptials; and her mother’s obsession with a dog that is being trained to poop next to the mailbox. Her physical wounds slowly heal and she gets the itch to go back to NY and find her husband Aidan, who is not answering her emails and seems to have become a rather shadowy character. Anna not only desperately misses him, she also misses her incredible job in the cosmetics industry and her New York lifestyle. Anna goes back, gets involved with a psychic and life takes some shocking turns. Once again Keyes has penned an intelligently written novel that is as funny as her previous books, but is ultimately much more heart-breaking. 05/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2006 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

ANYBODY OUT THERE by Marian Keyes: After surviving a terrible car accident, Anna Walsh returns to her parents’ home in Ireland to recuperate. While overseas, she places numerous calls to her beloved Aiden, wondering why he hasn’t come to see her or help her through this tough time. Upon returning to her home and her job in New York, Anna comes to the horrible realization that Aiden did not survive that fatal accident. Throughout her painful recovery and her subsequent return to New York, Anna recounts her experiences up until the horrible accident that changed her life. Her heart wrenching, but in typical Keyes fashion, amusing recovery will touch readers to the core. Fans will remember sisters Rachel, Claire and Maggie who have each been featured in previous Keyes titles. Helen’s part of the story significantly lightens things up as she plays private eye back in Ireland. This sweet and sad tale is surprisingly funny and has made a real Keyes fan out of me. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a light but touching read. 02/07 Becky Lejeune

THE APOCALYPSE CALENDAR by Emile A. Pessagno: Dr Pessagno is by education and background a very experienced Geologist and shows this skill in a book presenting both a factual and supernatural sequence of events. Dr Frank Miller, a geologist in a renowned Dallas Texas university, organizes an expedition into Mexico with four of his graduate students to do studies on the rock strata in different parts of the country. The author is very conversant with Mexico, it’s people and mores and of course with the actual opportunities for Geological exploration present there. This skill allows the groups travels, finds and contacts with various people to resound of being factual. The group hears about a fabled treasure termed Moctezuma’s treasure by the peoples inhabiting the villages and towns along the path of the expedition and takes a side trip to to try and find it. They do discover a stone hidden in a cave under the body of an ancient Mayan chief and take it back to Texas for study. There is a connection with a prehistoric visit by aliens from another star, as well as a curse placed upon it by a Mayan Shaman that leads to a spurt of international geological catastrophes of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and separation of land masses. The events take place in the period prior to “December 26, 2013 which is thought of as being the actual date of the predicted end of the world by the Mayans. The book has an interesting premise and coupled with Pessagno’s knowledge of what he writes about and where it takes place should be a winner but the author’s prose makes it resound like a badly translated novel although he is an English speaker. Given additional books published Dr Pessagno has to find a way to couple his good ideas with better styling. 3/13 Paul Lane

APOCALYPSE COW by Michael Logan: The United Kingdom has been overrun by zombie cows! Terry, a slaughterhouse worker, survives what will become the first attack but is taken prisoner by the man behind it all. He does manage to escape alongside Lesley, a reporter who stumbled onto the story, and one of the scientists involved in the plot, but his twisted would-be jailer is hot on their tail. Poor Geldof thought his biggest challenge would be surviving adolescence, but he was very wrong. His mother always said meat was murder but this definitely wasn’t what she meant. Now his family is offering reluctant shelter to their neighbors as well as Terry and Lesley, who have brought their pursuer right to Geldof’s door. Their only hope is to get off the island and escape to Europe. If they can survive long enough, Lesley might be able to break the story worldwide, exposing the truth behind the infection and possibly even saving the rest of the world from a terrible fate. Michael Logan’s debut is wickedly funny and definitely not for the faint-hearted. It’s raunchy and twisted but will have the right audience rolling on the floor with laughter. 6/13 Becky Lejeune

APPALOOSA by Robert B. Parker: It is too bad the Spenser series is so good, otherwise we could petition Robert B. Parker to just write westerns. Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are “town tamers”, itinerant lawmen who come into a town, civilize it with Cole’s Colt 45’s and Hitch’s eight-gauge double barreled shotgun, then move on to other challenges. They have been doing this together for fifteen years following a pattern of success. However, their stint in Appaloosa doesn’t quite follow the usual script. In fact, it is totally different. A hint. In a regular western the hero rides off at the end on his horse. In an adult western, the hero rides off with the girl. Appaloosa is definitely an adult western, and a darn good one. We can only hope that Virgil and Everett make future appearances elsewhere. As always, Parker’s terse style evokes images well beyond the text. As the two of them are about to go up against at least four bad guys –“Today be a good day to die?” I asked. “We ain’t gonna die,” Cole said. “Good to know,” I said. Cole didn’t say anything. He was looking at everything, walking through the fight as though he had already seen the rehearsal….” 07/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

APPEAL DENIED by Peter Corris: Will this be Cliff Hardy’s last outing? His brushes with the law have finally caught up with him to the point that his license has been suspended. The final appeal of the suspension procedure has been denied, so Cliff must now turn in his ID card and gun – but, his friend and lover, newspaper reporter Lily Truscott, is found shot to death. Of course, Hardy is going to leave the matter entirely up to the police. Yeah, right. And that is before one of Lily’s associates approaches Hardy about the police maybe covering up aspects of the murder. Another solid Hardy adventure – but I’m not going to tell whether it is really his last. You will have to find that out for yourself. 12/07 Jack Quick

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen: In this [not-so-great] sequel to The Surgeon [which was gristly and great!], Detective Jane Rizzoli is called to a crime scene out of her jurisdiction. The victim is a wealthy doctor, found with his throat slashed, sitting on the floor of his living room in his pajamas, with a teacup in his lap. His wife is missing, but her nightgown is found folded neatly on a chair in the bedroom. The similarities to the serial killer Warren Hoyt, nicknamed the Surgeon, are unmistakable, but he is in prison, which leads Rizzoli to think copycat killer. The killing spree continues, Hoyt escapes, and the F.B.I. is interested and not saying why. Meanwhile, Rizzoli has to deal with the emotional trauma she’s neglected since Hoyt was put away, her growing attraction to Special Agent Dean, and the very real possibility that she will be the next victim. There is gore galore and plenty of techno-babble for DNA aficionados, but there were no real surprises here and the ending was not very satisfying. Still, fans of The Surgeon will want to read this sequel. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2002 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE ARCHANGEL PROJECT by C.S. Graham: Husband and wife writing team C.S. Graham’s debut is a page-turning thriller with an interesting premise based on recently revealed government experiments involving psi soldiers. October “Tobie” Guinness joined the military hoping that her talents as a linguist would keep her from active duty. She was wrong. But her trip to Iraq ends with a psycho discharge and a stain on her record thanks to intel no one wanted to believe. Intel she herself could not back up thanks to the way it was acquired. Tobie subsequently learns that she is a talented remote viewer, able to “see” places and events simply by being given a set of coordinates on which to focus. Her involvement in a project at Tulane leads to catastrophic results when a black ops group is sent to eliminate both Tobie and the professor studying her ability. But getting rid of Tobie is not going to be so easy, especially after she receives help from a tough CIA agent determined to protect her. An absolute knock-out read. Fans of Steve Berry and James Rollins will love C.S. Graham. 11/09 Becky Lejeune

The Archivist by Martha Cooley: Intense, interesting, heart wrenching, excellent book and a must read for any T. S. Eliot aficionado. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ARK by Boyd Morrison: The story of Noah’s Ark has long intrigued Hasad Arvadi and discovering the Ark’s final resting place has been his life’s goal. But Hasad has been missing for three years. His daughter, Dilara, a renowned archaeologist in her own right, is surprised when Sam Watson, and old friend of her father’s, asks to meet under strange circumstances. Watson is murdered, dying before Dilara’s eyes, but not before passing along a shocking revelation: Hasad discovered Noah’s Ark. Not only that, but someone is planning to use Hasad’s discovery to kill millions and the only person who can help her is Tyler Locke. When Dilara finds Locke, he has no idea who she is. He’s never met her father and knows nothing about the Ark. What Locke does know is that Dilara is in grave danger and now his life is on the line as well. Their only solution is to work together to find out what Watson was trying to reveal and hope that they can stay alive long enough to prevent whatever catastrophe he was predicting. Morrison’s first Tyler Locke adventure is a fun read in the vein of James Rollins and Steve Berry. Lots of action, lots of science, and even a little fantastic truth in the mix that lends itself well to the believability of the tale. 09/11 Becky Lejeune

ARRANGED by Catherine McKenzie: After discovering her latest boyfriend’s a cheater, Anne Blythe comes across what she thinks is a business card for a dating service. Intrigued by Blythe and Company’s promise of “Arrangements made,” Anne hangs onto the card. When her best friend announces that she’s engaged, Anne decides to give Blythe and Co a try. Turns out, they’re not a dating service after all. Blythe and Company specializes in arranging marriages. Now, Anne must decide if she’s ready to take the plunge and if she’s comfortable leaving the process of finding a potential spouse in someone else’s hands. With Arranged, McKenzie’s leading lady is faced with just how far she’s willing to go to meet the man of her dreams and what to do if that person isn’t exactly what she’d imagined he would be. Like her debut, Spin, I loved McKenzie’s characters and her ability to maintain a light tone while tackling what can be a challenging topic. Arranged is a smart contemporary tale for chick-lit, romance, and women’s fiction fans. 5/12 Becky Lejeune

THE ARRANGER by L. J. Sellers: No matter where you stand on current government spending priorities, this one will get your attention. The year is 2023 and ex-detective Lara Evans is working as a freelance paramedic in a bleak new world. On an emergency call she saves the life of the federal employment commissioner, although she herself is nearly killed by the commissioner’s assailant. The next day Laura is to begin the Gauntlet – a national competition of intense physical and mental challenges with high stakes for her home state of Oregon. The commissioner oversees the annual contest and offers to help Evans is she won’t report the attack. At the competition she spots the shooter lurking at the arena and soon after, everything starts to go wrong. Sellers has vividly painted a future world with massive government control, economic stagnation, and many of the same types of crime and misdemeanors we know today, but in a magnified form. On a parallel path, a government computer programmer is using his skills to “sell” opportunities for job promotions by sabotaging existing employees. The reason – he needs the money for cosmetic surgery to enable to have a social life. The evolution of social media and refinements of current technology have made this all possible, but is it something you would want? You will have to decide for yourself. Recommended. 09/11 Jack Quick

THE ART OF DISAPPEARING by Ivy Pochoda: Was it coincidence, fate, or magic that brought together Mel Snow and Toby Warring? Mel doesn’t know, but two days later she marries Toby. Life seems to be going well for the new couple: Mel, a textile consultant, lands a job with a new casino and Toby, a magician, gets a gig just off the strip in Las Vegas. Las Vegas: the destiny of choice for all magicians. But Mel knows that Toby’s show is the real illusion. Toby is a real magician. No sleight of hand or misdirection, but really real magic. Even Toby isn’t sure just how much power he possesses, but his ability has caused him some great emotional trauma throughout the years. His last human assistant disappeared without a trace and Toby has been careful not to make the same mistake again. Toby is just one step away from the fame and recognition he’s always wanted, and just one step from total ruination as well. Mel’s love is strong enough to hold them together through it all, but when Toby’s magic begins to twist their reality, Mel begins to wonder if anything in their life is what it seems. Pochoda’s debut is a magical tale of romance and loss, sweet and heartfelt. 09/09 Becky Lejeune

THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach: Henry Skrimshander is a high school baseball player, but more than that, he is a gifted shortstop, living in a small blue collar town. When opposing team catcher Mike Schwartz sees him play, he recruits Henry for Westish College, a small private school in Wisconsin where Mike is team captain. Henry had never really considered college, but when he gets offered a scholarship he can’t say no. Henry lives and breathes baseball, and as Schwartz trains him and bulks him out, Henry starts attracting the attention of pro scouts. The president of Westish, Guert Aflenlighter, has never been a big baseball fan until he falls for Henry’s roommate, a brilliant scholarship student who plays ball brilliantly but sits and reads when riding the bench. Guert’s daughter Pella had run off and gotten married while still a high school senior, giving up a chance at Yale for a much older man. But Pella runs away from her husband and returns home to Westish, falling for Mike Schwartz soon after arriving. Then Henry has a bad throw which changes his life, and the story takes a different turn. Harbach is a young author whose grasp of story and ability to move a plot are extraordinary. In his hands these characters have depth and intellect, interact and intersect as they learn from each other about loyalty and independence and love. Baseball fans will surely appreciate this book, but so will those who just love a good story, well told. Don’t miss it. 11/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach: The Art of Fielding is in a category by itself among the new books that I have read this year. That it is a young writer’s first novel is even more impressive. It is story-telling in the grand American fashion centering around the great American pastime. It begins when the special fielding ability of a skinny summer league baseball player named Henry Skrimshander is spotted by the opposing catcher, Mike Schwartz. Mike quickly recruits Henry to his college, Westish. Westish is a small college in Wisconsin (which the author reminds us) is the state that is shaped like a baseball glove. At the Westish campus, Henry’s life begins to be shaped by two major forces – Mike Schwartz, who starts him on a grueling training regimen to build him up and refine his baseball skills; and Henry’s roommate, a gay mulatto scholarship student named Owen Dunne. As the season goes on, the President of the University, Guert Affenlight (a Melville scholar) finds himself drawn to Owen. And when his daughter Pella leaves her marriage and returns to the campus, she is drawn into Mike Schwartz’s orbit. Unfortunately, same sex affairs between college presidents and male scholarship students create problems. And even baseball players with major league potential being pursued by scouts can develop problems in their game. And husbands one has left show up on one’s doorstep and want explanations. All this is dealt with by the five friends. In the end, this book is about loyalty to friends and institutions of higher learning. What could be more American than that. I could not help but admire the author’s easy style and access to the parts of the human heart that feel both joy and pain. I expect this to be my choice for book of the year. 10/11 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

THE ART OF MAKING MONEY by Jason Kersten: Counterfeiter Art Williams Jr. was born in 1972 and abandoned by his father to poverty, the gritty gangs of Chicago and a mentally ill mother. He slid into an underworld of theft and violence before a money crafter introduced him to counterfeiting. For the next 14 years, Williams produced millions of dollars worth of uncannily accurate bills till the Secret Service caught up with him. This isn’t fiction although it reads that way with characters like a Chinese mob leader known as the Horse and tales of giddy shopping sprees fueled by sex and fake bills It’s a tale of how a young smalltime crook with a meticulous eye for artistic detail and an addiction to the thrill of crime crafts millions in high-quality phony bills who is also, as portrayed by Kersten “a sensitive young man seeking paternal love and aesthetic validation”. Nicely done tale. 10/09 Jack Quick

THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein: Now I know what all the fuss is about. And by fuss I mean all the sterling reviews and the fact that Starbucks picked it for their one book of the month and gave me a really cute bookmark. The truth is things like that may sway me to pick up a book, but often disappoint when I’m done with the book. But not this time. I read this five books ago and I can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it and making everyone within earshot learn why they should read this book. So why should I stop now? It’s not what the book is about, which is a nice story about a wanna-be race car driver, his family and his dog, most of which I have no interest in. I like dogs but I share residence with Edgar, the psycho-cat. I am indifferent to NASCAR – I just don’t get the fascination with watching people drive around in circles for hours. Even if the people in question are very cute guys and a pretty-as-a-model girl. You can’t see them in their cars anyway. I wouldn’t even have picked up this book except that a good friend who is extremely discriminating (read: hates almost everything) loved it and told me to read it. So I did. I will skip the blow by blow synopsis which frankly, is probably overwrought and just isn’t all that important. I will tell you what is wonderful about this book and why I loved it. I loved the voice. It is told from the perspective of the dog, Enzo. Yes, the dog is the narrator and don’t go rolling your eyes, Stein makes it work so well that he makes you wonder why dogs don’t narrate more books. This is a book that tugs at the heartstrings without being cloying or cliché. I learned about car racing and the technical side of driving and why things work the way they do. Who knew I was even interested in such things, but turns out in Stein’s capable hands, I am. The characters – the humans too – are so well drawn that I became totally immersed in their lives and their story. It’s a book about dogs and family, love and passion, loyalty and life. It is a book that will make you laugh and cry but is ultimately uplifting. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and you should read it too. 7/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ART OF SURVIVAL by A. E. Maxwell: This is the fifth in the Fiddler and Fiora series by the husband-and-wife team, A. E. (for Ann and Evan) Maxwell published in the 1980’s. Hard-nosed, worldly private eye Fiddler breaks again with his successful financier wife Fiora and leaves their California home for Santa Fe, art capital of the Southwest. (The two are great in bed, but a hazard to each other’s health, otherwise). Fiddler gets drawn into the local art scene with gallery owner Olin Nickelaw and artist Maggie Tenorio. Nickelaw has recently paid a million dollars for a recently discovered painting by Georgia O’Keefe by Fiddler suspects there is more than meets the eye here and that Nickelaw and Tenorio are no more than a pair of hustlers. In trying to uncover the fraud, Fiddler inadvertently endangers Fiora. Excellent read. 03/09 Jack Quick

As Long as She Needs Me by Nicholas Weinstock: Sweet, funny contemporary British love story along the lines of Bridget Jones Diary, except the protagonist is the flip side, i.e. the guy. Very entertaining. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ASCENT by Ronald Malfi: Tim Overleigh has been spiraling downward since the tragic death of his wife. Once a promising artist—an up-and-coming sculptor who was the talk of the art community—Tim has found his inspiration has left him. His new efforts have gone into drinking and extreme sports, activities that have nearly cost him his life. When an old friend approaches Tim with a proposal, he initially brushes it off. It would be the chance of a lifetime, a trek through the mountains of Nepal to reach the never-before-explored Canyon of Souls, an area steeped in mystical legend and lore. Tim finally decides to go for it, understanding that the trip will be harrowing and may even cost him his life. He and his fellow adventurers have no idea what they are really in for, though. I enjoyed the adrenaline-fueled action and am an admitted sucker for this kind of setting. Overall, for a quick and fun read, The Ascent delivered. My one complaint is that while there is some useful character development, it’s really just enough to get the story by. If you’re looking for a deep read, this is not it. If you’re looking for a book in the vein of Vertical Limit (guilty pleasure of mine), then you’ll enjoy Malfi’s latest. 09/10 Becky Lejeune

ASK THE DICE by Ed Lynskey: Tommy Mack Zane has faithfully worked as a contract killer for Watson Ogg, the Washington, D.C. crime boss, for some twenty years. Apparently, Mr. Ogg has decided to retire Zane – permanently. After Zane is framed for the murder of Ogg’s niece, he fights back with the aid of his friends the mercurial D. Noble and burly Esquire to fight with Mr. Ogg and his mercenary “dark suits” for his life. The story is rich, but told in spare, lean prose reminiscent of Ken Bruen or Robert B. Parker. Nicely done. 12/11 Jack Quick Note: available as an e-book only

ASK THE PARROT by Richard Stark: By now everyone probably knows that Stark is AKA Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Donald Westlake. By any name, he always turns out great work and this is no exception. Parker is on the lam from the botched robbery in Nobody Runs Forever (2004) when he meets up with reclusive Tom Lindahl. Lindahl rescues Parker from a bad situation because he wants him to help rob a local racetrack. Parker sees it as a good deal and also feels he owes Lindahl. As usual everything falls apart and only Parker can put even some of the pieces back together. Parker is the cold blooded professional with little redeeming value that you end up rooting for in spite of who he is. Let’s hope that Stark/Westlake continues to see fit to give us periodic Parker updates. We need them. 11/06 Jack Quick

THE ASSASSIN by Rachel Butler: Selena spent her first twelve years as an abused child on the mean streets of Jamaica until a wealthy American drug lord, rescued her and raised her to take over his business. But Selena has other plans, and they don’t include running drugs. Fourteen years later, she still feels sufficiently indebted to Davis (the drug lord) to submit to his demand that she kill a Tulsa cop who’s getting too close to exposing Davis’s operation. Selena’s target is Detective Tony Ceola, godson to Tulsa’s chief of police and her temporary next-door neighbor. Has all the makings of a great series and the second installment – Deep Cover – is already in print. 02/06 Jack Quick

ASSASSINS OF ATHENS by Jeffery Siger: Interesting police procedural set in modern Athens, Greece. Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis is investigating the murder of a boy from one of Greece’s most prominent families whose body turns up in a dumpster in one of Athens’ worst neighborhoods. The boy’s father is in the middle of a hostile takeover bid of Athens’ most respected newspaper and the fight has turned dirty – but has it led to murder. Kaldis’ politically incorrect search for answers takes him deep into the sordid, criminal side of Athens nightlife and on to the glittering world of Athens society where age-old frictions between old money and new breed jealousy, murder, revenge, revolutionaries, and some very dangerous truths. Nicely done and could be the start of a series featuring the dogged Kaldis, who will not take no for an answer. 02/10 Jack Quick

ASSASSIN’S SHADOW by Randy Wayne White: Ex-SEAL Dusky MacMorgan is at the elite resort of St. Carib. That’s where the rich and famous go to have their bodies perfected. A group of international terrorists have decided to wipe out the entire resort client list and it’s up to Dusky and his new found female partner to save the day. Think Bruce Willis meets James Bond in a Caribbean setting. Pure escape but fun, from White’s Randy Striker period. 01/09 Jack Quick

THE ASSASSINS GALLERY by David L. Robbins: It’s the waning days of World War II. Professor Mikhal Lammeck, a specialist in the history and weaponry of assassins, is in England, involved in training agents to be sent behind enemy lines. A former pupil, now a member of the United States Secret Service, arranges for Lammeck to come to the United States to look at a gruesome double murder on the beach near Newburyport, Massachusetts. Based on the evidence and Lammeck’s own knowledge he concludes that someone wants one last shot at altering history. An assassin is headed to Washington, D.C., to kill the most important soldier of them all – the U.S. commander in chief. Lammeck and the killer at the top of her profession circle the streets of the capital – one attempting to kill FDR, the other attempting to save him. Who will prevail? A first rate thriller. 12/07 Jack Quick

THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham: Now I remember why I stopped reading Grisham. He’s a great storyteller, but I just can’t suspend my disbelief that much. Kyle McAvoy is the lawyer at the heart of this farfetched story. Brilliant student, editor of the Yale Law Review, and son of a hard working lawyer who believes in helping people, so no one can believe it when Kyle takes a job as an associate at the world’s largest law firm (more than 2000 lawyers) and goes corporate. What no one knows, except for the people blackmailing Kyle, is that he was present at the possible rape of a girl who liked to party with the frat brothers, but no charges were ever filed. But some bad people have hold of a video of the supposed rape, and threaten to destroy Kyle’s life by using it unless he become a corporate spy for them. Logic flies out the window and the brilliant law student is reduced to idiocy. The best thing I can say about it is that I managed to finish it. 02/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE ASYLUM by John Harwood: Georgina Ferrars can’t remember anything from recent weeks. She has no memory of arriving at Tregannon Asylum and certainly no memory of checking in as a voluntary patient under the alias Lucy Ashton. When the doctor at Tregannon House tells her that she cannot be Georgina Ferrars because the “real” Georgina Ferrars is safe at home in London, Georgina finds herself officially committed. Under lock and key, she has almost no hope of proving her true identity or finding out who has taken her place, but she is determined to try. This latest from Harwood has all the same elements his fans have come to love in his work: a Victorian gothic setting and style as well as dual storylines that alternate from Georgina to a series of letters between her mother and a woman named Rosina. The mystery unfolds at a wonderful pace but the book ultimately falls a bit flat in comparison to Harwood’s earlier works. The reveal at the end is too hurried to truly live up to the expectation built throughout the novel. 5/13 Becky Lejeune

AT RISK by Stella Rimington: Ms. Rimington was the first female director general of MI5, having worked in all the main fields of the service including counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and counter-subversion before her retirement with 30 years tenure. In this, her first novel, she presents a taut, believable portrait of life in the service, warts and all. British Intelligence is facing an “invisible” – a terrorist who is an ethnic native of the target country and who can therefore cross its borders and move around the country without attracting attention. Her characters, particularly Intelligence Officer Liz Carlyle, seem genuine and realistic as they pursue the bad guys both within and outside the various branches that have to coordinate their activities. The murder of a fisherman in Norfolk using an armor piercing bullet gets them on the chase fairly quickly but the who, where, when and how of the terrorist strike are more difficult to unravel. Like a kettle coming to boil the tension increases as the plot unfolds, knowing that Liz is not necessarily certain to succeed within the time available. A good “Brit” story, well told, and hopefully the beginning of a long relationship with Ms. Carlyle and company. Recommended. 04/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

AT THE CITY’S EDGE by Marcus Sakey: The “city” of the title is Chicago, and it’s “edge” is populated by gangs. Jason Palmer is a soldier, newly returned home from Iraq, where he received an “other than honorable” discharge. He is floating; disturbed and unsure what to do with his life. His brother owns a bar in one of the gang-ridden neighborhoods, but he is also a crusader, working behind the scenes to clean up the streets. He touches a nerve, because he is murdered in front of his 8 year old son, and his bar is burned down. Jason is forced into parentage and responsibility, chief of which is determining why his brother’s murderers are now trying to kill him and his nephew. He also needs to find out why his brother was killed, and ultimately who the murderers were. He is joined in this effort by Elena Cruz, a cop who works the gangs but has some murky history of her own. This is a haunting story, beautifully written with rich, evocative images and tension building on every page, until the shocking ending. Sakey wrote an amazing debut with The Blade Itself, and with his sophomore effort has outdone himself. 01/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

AT THE CITY’S EDGE by Marcus Sakey: In Sakey’s second crime novel Jason Palmer, a veteran of the current Iraq war, is back in Chicago and at loose ends. His older brother Michael runs a bar in their old South Side Chicago neighborhood and tries to raise his eight-year-old son, Billy, as a single parent. But when Michael tries to disrupt the current of gang violence that tarnishes the area he becomes a target. When Michael is murdered and Billy is threatened, Jason reverts to soldier mode and in the process rediscovers himself. I liked this one much better than 2007’s THE BLADE ITSELF, and look forward to his next effort. 08/08 Jack Quick

ATLANTIS by David Gibbins: The secret of Atlantis is lost for centuries because of a common mugging. Now marine archeologist Jack Howard may have found the key to uncovering this legendary sunken city. A scrap of papyrus discovered in an Egyptian desert, which may contain a secondhand account of the lost city, sends Jack scrambling to assemble a team. Once prepped and in position in the Aegean Sea, Jack and company find themselves caught up with Kazakhstan terrorists and a multi-country fight over a missing Soviet nuclear submarine—and that’s before they’ve uncovered the ancient secrets of the lost city. Think Clive Cussler with a hefty dose of science. The historical conspiracy angle is reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code book and unless you are a science fan, you might want to wait for the movie version. All in all a good story, but would have benefited from tighter editing. 03/07 Jack Quick

THE ATLANTIS CODE by Charles Brokaw: Somewhat of a Da Vinci Code clone. Archeologist and linguist Thomas Lourds is trying to find the connection between a bell and a cymbal, both with writings in a previously unknown language. He is assisted in his quest by TV documentary producer Leslie Crane and by Moscow police inspector Natashya Safarov, sister of a Lourds associate who has been murdered. Opposing Lourds is Cardinal Stefano Murani, who is seeking the artifacts for his own evil purposes. From Alexandria, Greece to Moscow to Leipzig and Senegal, the chase is on. Could the artifacts be linked to Atlantis and do they hold a secret that will shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. Eventually the answers are revealed. If you really, really loved the Da Vinci Code, you might find this one of more than passing interest. Otherwise, you might look elsewhere. 03/10 Jack Quick

THE ATLANTIS PROPHECY by Thomas Greanias: Astro-archeologist Conrad Yeats has returned to Washington, DC after his near death experiences in Antarctica chronicled in Raising Atlantis. Vatican linguist Sister Serena Serghetti is back in Rome where she interprets Conrad’s father’s oddly sculpted tombstone which contains a cryptic message. Intrigued, Conrad investigates and discovers George Washington entrusted a treaty sealed in a celestial globe to the care of one of Conrad’s ancestors—but Conrad is not the only one looking for it. According to the Atlantis prophecy, when the stars’ align on July 4, 2008, with Washington, D.C., monuments, his sinister rivals’ new world order will begin clicking into place. Obviously in March, 2010, their sinister plan didn’t work, but who knows what the future lies – beyond the promised third volume of this exciting set. 03/10 Jack Quick

THE ATLANTIS REVELATION by Thomas Greanias: The final in Greanis three book series in which Archaeologist Conrad Yeats and Serena Serghetti, the beautiful Vatican linguist he loved and lost, battle the remnants of an ancient conspiracy who seek to ignite global Armageddon and revive an empire. Beginning with a sunken Nazi submarine and wending though Jerusalem, the city of God, a centuries-old secret awaits. Archaeologist Conrad Yeats discovers Hitler’s quest for Atlantis in the ruins of the Third Reich which yields the key to an ancient conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of every major government. Like the two previous outings Yeats and Serena are imperiled, but are up the challenge. Yes, it is derivative of The Da Vincie Code et al as well as Mission Impossible and Indiana Jones – but still a fast-paced fun read. Recommend reading all three (RAISING ATLANTIS, THE ATLANTIS PROPHECY, and this one (in sequence, of course). 03/10 Jack Quick

Atonement by Ian McEwan: This incredible novel started off slowly for me but soon became totally engrossing. Written in three parts, it encompasses love and war and betrayal and…atonement. Or does it? I didn’t like the main character, Briony, a precocious little brat, so I had difficulty staying inside her head at the beginning. But the way the author portrayed her, from the silliness and selfishness of that little girl, to her spiteful cruelty that changed the lives of so many, resonated throughout the novel. Once I got past the beginning, the searing heat between lovers Cecilia and Robbie made the book started clicking for me and I read the rest straight through. I found it totally engrossing, from the insanity of the family dinner to the insightful descriptiveness of war to the sterility of the hospital where Cecilia worked (not to mention the sterility of the nurses!) to the ultimate conclusion, the atonement. Simply put, it was beautifully written. Shortlisted for the Booker. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell: This debut is utterly charming, a slice of millennium life set at the brink of change, the then upcoming new century and all the fear and hysteria that went with it. Beth and Jennifer are best friends and colleagues at a small newspaper. Beth lives with her boyfriend, rock star wanna-be Chris, while Jennifer is married to romantic Mitch, who is pressuring her to have a baby. They share a good part of their lives through their company email. Lincoln works nights at the paper in security; it is his job to read the emails that the firewall software has flagged, and to issue warnings to employees who are breaking the rules. But as he reads Beth and Jennifer’s emails, he doesn’t have the heart to reprimand them and soon realizes that he has fallen for the very much taken Beth. Beth and Jennifer’s stories are told epistolary style, through their emails, while Lincoln has his own voice in alternating chapters. The mixed up format worked for me, and the comparisons to “When Harry Met Sally” are justified. Rowell offers up a cup of frothy fun, romantic reading at its best. I couldn’t put it down. 04/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

AUDREY’S DOOR by Sarah Langan: Audrey Lucas has never had things easy. Much of her life was lived on the road taking care of her bipolar mother. When the woman was finally committed, Audrey made her escape to New York City. Now with an architecture degree behind her, Audrey is ready to embark on the next phase of her life. She’s landed a position with a great architecture firm and found the apartment of her dreams: The Breviary is strangely within budget, but that could be due to the tragedy that took place in Audrey’s new apartment when the previous tenant killed her own children before committing suicide. The building itself, an architectural marvel, is enough to inspire Audrey. The fact that the apartment is beyond what she could expect in this area of the city is almost secondary. But The Breviary is hiding a secret, one that is decades old, and Audrey has been chosen as the one who can finally unleash the evil that lives within. Langan’s previous novels, The Keeper and Missing, have earned the author much-deserved praise and respect in the horror community. Once again, she delivers. Langan builds a scenario packed with a creepy atmosphere, suspenseful plot, and tangible characters with deep-seated issues. 10/09 Becky Lejeune

AUGUST MOON by Jess Lourey: Battle Lake, Minnesota is scorching hot and apparently potentially deadly year round in this, the fourth Mira James’ Murder-by-Month mystery (following May Day, June Bug, and Knee-High By The Fourth of July).. What is not hot is Mira’s love life, so she has decided to move down to Minneapolis and become a “cat-collecting, fist-shaking, asexual English professor.” A murdered high school cheerleader changes her plans and soon she is investigating the Right Reverend pastor Meale who runs the evangelical New Millennium Bible Camp. When the camp’s Creation Science Fair only turns up as a disturbing “Stepford Wives meets Hee Haw” atmosphere, Mira begins to have second thoughts. Peppered with sparkling dialogue like, “Can you drive?” “Is the Pope Catholic?” “I’m pretty sure he is. But can you drive? “Not in the eyes of the law, but that doesn’t stop me from where I’m going.” All in all, it’s not bad as Mira sticks to her guns and survives to star in the upcoming September Mourn. 08/08 Jack Quick

AUSTENLAND by Shannon Hale: Jane Hayes has relationship trouble. She’s obsessed with Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy – specifically Colin Firth’s version – and no other man can compare. Her great aunt is well aware of this obsession and warns Jane that she needs to embrace life and stop this fantasy. Jane does not listen. A few months later, Jane gets a call regarding her inheritance. It seems the great aunt that she barely knew has bequeathed her a vacation. The trip is an all expense paid, all inclusive, three-week stay at Austenland, a top secret Jane Austen resort. Vacationers “Experience” life as it was in 1816 – a Jane Austen life that is. No cell phones, no jeans, no cars, no exceptions. Ladies must adhere to the social norms of the time and dress appropriately. Jane, ready to give up on men altogether, decides to go out with a bang and immerse herself in “the Experience.” She hopes that this will finally allow her to get over Mr. Darcy. Or will it? Who could ask for a more sweet and enticing read? This oh-so-predictable happy ending is just what a girl needs sometimes and I absolutely adored it. 05/07 Becky Lejeune

AUTUMN by David Moody: It was a fluke that brought Carl, Michael, and Emma together. 99% of the population is now dead thanks to a mysterious contagion. Carl, Michael, and Emma are just a few of the remaining survivors, seemingly immune to the plague. The three come together in the beginning along with a larger group of survivors and hole up in a community center as temporary shelter. Soon they discover that some of the dead aren’t staying that way. With supplies dwindling, Carl and Michael decide that it might be best to find a better stronghold to set up in. Their plan is not met with much enthusiasm from the others, but Emma agrees that leaving would be best. The three set off, only to find that things are much worse than they’d feared, and the dead are getting smarter. Moody’s post-outbreak zombie horror is reminiscent of Survivors, with the addition of the walking dead, that is. 10/10 Becky Lejeune

AUTUMN: THE CITY by David Moody: In this sequel and companion to Autumn, Moody introduces readers to a new set of survivors. For those in the city during the outbreak, terror and confusion are ruling factors. Holed up in office buildings, department stores, and even a university building with no explanation of what’s going on, they are forced to watch as those around them first fall victim to an unseen plague and then begin to rise again. At first the dead seem to simply wander around, but then they begin to hone in on the survivors themselves and as more of the living come together, more of the dead follow. Moody is known for his great use of atmosphere in building suspense in his horror. Autumn and Autumn: The City both focus on the survivors and various challenges they face in this new post-outbreak world. Survival seems a bleak prospect, but I hope that the people left by the end of the tale will somehow make it through. Only time will tell. Autumn: Purification is due out in August. 02/11 Becky Lejeune

AUTUMN: PURIFICATION by David Moody: The two groups of survivors from Autumn and Autumn: The City have come together as one in Autumn: Purification. They have found temporary shelter in an underground military bunker. Thousands of undead swarm the ground above and those inside know that they won’t be safe forever. As the military prepares for a mass attack on the zombies, the rest of the survivors are forced to plan their escape back into the outside world. Moody once again pits his hearty survivors against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The continued breakdown of society as a whole, the loss of hope, and the few who manage to hold on to the last strings of civilization are the driving forces of this series. 3/12 Becky Lejeune

AVALANCHE by Zane Grey: Occasionally a break is needed, and for Western fiction there is no better than Zane Grey. This is a classic tale of two men who grew up closer than brothers, absolutely inseparable in the wild western country until both fall in love with the same fickle woman. It takes the raging fury of nature itself to mend the hate that had broken their friendship. 04/06 Jack Quick

THE AWAKENED MAGE by Karen Miller: The stunning conclusion to Karen Miller’s Kingmaker Kingbreaker series is here. It picks up exactly where The Innocent Mage left off. The discovery of an ancient library led Durm, the master magician of the Kingdom of Lur, to make a grave mistake. His own curiosity opened a door that allowed the monster Morg – a magician turned evil through his own thirst for power – to enter the protected sanctum of Lur. Now, King Borne, his wife, and his daughter all lay dead as a result of Morg’s spell. As the only living member of the royal family, Prince Gar has been named king. Gar, the only Doranen ever to be born without the gift of magic, has also fallen prey to Morg’s scheming. Morg gifted the prince with a finite taste of magical abilities – the only thing that has allowed him to take the throne. Now that magic has left him and he fears the entire kingdom may fall into anarchy. Gar’s only salvation is his friend Asher. Neither knows that Asher will bring the coming of a new age. They will all soon discover that this Olken is the only one who can protect the kingdom from an ancient evil long thought dead. Miller’s series is absolutely entrancing. 10/07 Becky Lejeune

Azarel by Karoly Pap: Very intense, very emotional novel about a boy’s crisis of faith. Set in rural Hungary at the turn of the twentieth century and never before translated into English, Azarel chronicles the life of young Gyuri, a rebellious nine-year-old boy whose father is a rabbi and whose grandfather Jeremiah is an Orthodox fanatic. Jeremiah thinks his son and his followers are going to “melt the Jewish people in the furnaces of exile” – prophetic and haunting language for a book first published in 1937. Pap died in Bergen-Belsen. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

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 G: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

GALLIPOLI by Peter Hart: I must admit that I am not a great reader of nonfiction books, especially war materials. On the advice of a friend who heard Mr. Hart speak some years ago at an Amvet convention, I picked it up and was frankly amazed at what the book described. Peter Hart, who recently passed away, was a world-renowned expert on the First World War with an emphasis on the battle of Gallipoli. He led tours of the battlefield during his lifetime and wrote several books about it.
The research going into the material is almost impossible to describe. Hart incorporates a large quantity of personal writings of the combatants – English, French, Australian, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers and officers. This alone probably required years of painstaking research and digging, plus translating into English for the book. The combat is set up as factual accounts of mass charges against modern weapons, with consequent slaughters of the numerous troops involved. It is not by any means dull or stodgy, as historical accounts of battle could be, but something bringing the reader into the combat observing from above and commiserating with the soldiers involved.

World War I, now a century in the past, was combat with modern weapons comprising massive troop charges from one set of trenches to the enemy trenches just yards away. Slaughter was beyond understanding, with waves of men running into cannon and machine gun fire. The main theater of war was the western front on territory that ran through France and Belgium. It was a complete stalemate in 1915 when Winston Churchill conceived the idea of a campaign to conquer Istanbul in order to open a path to Russia, an ally of England, and provide material to them. At that time he was the First Lord of the Admiralty (equivalent to Secretary of the Navy), and wanted to make a name for himself. He fought off opposition and an invasion was launched against Gallipoli in late April 1915. It was painfully obvious that the cost in lives would be horrendous, and after months of bloody stalemate the decision was made to withdraw. which was accomplished in January 1916. Ironically, the withdrawal is considered to be the only victory for the British and their allies in the battle since subterfuge prevented mass slaughter of the fleeing troops. As a consequence of the battle’s failure, Churchill had to resign as Admiralty First Lord, but later did resurrect his political career. Obviously this book is not for everyone, but is recommended for those that like to explore history through well researched material regardless of what segment of history it discusses. 6/12 Paul Lane
GALLOWS VIEW by Peter Robinson: This is the first of the Inspector Banks series for which Robinson has become justly famous. Former London policeman Alan Banks has relocated to small Yorkshire village of Eastvale seeking some small measure of peace, but crime and violence are not limited to large cities. . Soon he is dealing with a brazen Peeping Tom who spies on attractive, unsuspecting ladies as they prepare for bed. When an elderly woman is found brutally slain in her home, Chief Inspector Banks wonders if the voyeur has progressed to more violent crimes. I am looking forward to continuing the series. 09/06 Jack Quick

GALVESTON by Nic Pizzolatto: Roy Cady is middle-aged gangster who has a really bad day; he finds out he has terminal cancer and that his boss is trying to kill him. Instead, he turns the tables on the men sent to kill him in a terrible bloodbath that leaves Rocky, a young hooker/innocent by-stander, alive and petrified. He takes Rocky with him and goes on the lam. She asks him to make a stop in Orange, Texas, where she picks up her three year old sister. Now saddled with two girls, they hide out while Cady tries to get together enough money for the girls to survive on their own without him. Things don’t turn out the way he wants but what a story he has to tell. This dark and gritty novel with well defined characters is completely engrossing. An excellent debut novel. Note: I would really like to know how, on p. 81, this character used to grill battered shrimp. Wouldn’t the batter fall through the grill? 10/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GALVESTON by Nic Pizzolatto: Ray Caasy is not a nice man. Hailing from Port Arthur Texas, he is working as an enforcer for a low-level, low-life New Orleans gangster. But that is no reason for his boss to attempt to call him, particularly on the same day he learns he has terminal lung cancer. Roy and a young prostitute, Rocky, who hails from Orange, Texas near Port Arthur — are thrown together after a blood-spattered encounter with the would-be hit men, and end up on the run, traveling from New Orleans to Galveston. “Nothing ends well,” Roy muses at one point, and, of course, we know from the start that this road trip is on a collision course with disaster. Pizzolatto builds tension by moving back and forth in time: we know it all goes bad, but we don’t know how. All in all, an excellent crime-fiction debut. 02/11 Jack Quick

GALWAY BAY by Mary Pat Kelly: We meet Honora Kelley as she’s preparing to enter the sisterhood, something that has been planned for her to do since she was a young girl. Instead, though, she sees a man who appears to be drowning in Galway Bay. This man is Michael Kelly, and they fall in love at first sight. Despite many challenges, they eventually marry. Galway Bay is the tale of one Irish family’s quest for survival, despite the many tragedies that come their way. One can’t help but feel enlighten and encouraged by the Kelly family’s triumphs and dedication to the future and survival of their family. The characters were strong, well rounded and unforgettable. Mary Pat Kelly, a descendent of the Kelly family, definitely has a great talent for writing. Her research and passion for her descendant’s history is evident. Her portrayal of the Kelly family experience was never sugar coated, it was always true to history. It was an honor for me to be able walk with this family and learn about a part of history that is not often detailed. Galway Bay touched my soul like no other book has for some time. If you haven’t picked up a copy of Galway Bay, do it now. You won’t be sorry. 03/09 Jennifer Lawrence

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin: Have you ever read fantasy? Have you ever tried? OK time to try. George RR Martin has created a series that will blow your mind. And good riddance to your mind I say! These books are so totally captivating that you will stay up long into the night to read them. You will gasp as you read, and smirk, and fill with tears, and tell all your friends the next morning. They are big and juicy and so clever! The first is A GAME OF THRONES where you’ll meet all the key players. The second is A CLASH OF KINGS. The third is A STORM OF SWORDS. The fourth is hopefully due out next spring. I know you’ll hope so if you begin #1. There is nothing to do but gush over how good these books are. The characters are terrific. The settings are perfect – – Kings and Queens and swords and wolves and lions and dragons and castles – – Ghosts and shadows and forts and battles. They are great for kids 11 and up too. But like all great books they are meant for everyone and every age. I could write another 3 pages about the fast pace, the intrigue, the jaw dropping scenes . . . but go ahead and read the first book and write to me! I can think of no better series to spend a summer with than this. ~This review contributed by Ann Nappa

A GAME OF THRONES by George R. R. Martin: Epic fantasy fans have known for a long time that George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series is one of the best out there. After a critically acclaimed first season, the TV adaptation is introducing more folks—like me—to the series as well. Rather than wait for season two to air, I figured I needed to start with book one and actually read them. As an aside, season one does follow book one almost to a T. In Game of Thrones, we meet the Starks of Winterfell: Ned Stark, best friend of the King and brother-in-law to the King’s Hand, his wife, Catelyn, his son Jon Snow (who’s mother is a closely held secret), and the Stark children. Their lives at Winterfell are thrown upside down when news regarding the death of the King’s Hand reaches them. The King asks Ned to take the position and the Starks soon find themselves in the midst of a plot that will have terrible consequences for everyone. The King’s wife, Cersei Lannister, with the help of her twin brother (and lover) is responsible for the death of the Hand and when Ned learns why, he becomes their greatest enemy. Meanwhile, the last remaining descendants of an overthrown king are plotting their own return. Game is a complex and bulky read, but one that easily draws readers in. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but Martin does well in introducing them all and building their histories in a way that doesn’t bog down the story. 2/12 Becky Lejeune

A GARDEN OF VIPERS by Jack Kerley: Three dead women, each killed in a different way. One is a friend of the girlfriend of Mobile, Alabama, detective Carson Ryder. What Ryder and partner Harry Nautilus aren’t sure is whether the three seemingly dissimilar cases are in fact related. Then Ryder learns that Lucas Kincannon, son and scion of one of Mobile’s nouveau rich is after his television reporter girlfriend. Coupled with some follow the money clues, this puts Ryder and Nautilus on a collision course with the city power structure. This is Kerley’s third (after The Hundredth Man and The Death Collectors) and he is rapidly making Mobile the epicenter of new millennium crime detection. The villains are flawed, as are the protagonists, and you are kept in suspense as to just who will overcome their own defects first. While not yet a Burke or a Parker, Kerley is already on my “don’t miss” list. 07/06 Jack Quick

THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson: The narrator is a gorgeous porno actor that crashes his car while driving on a winding mountainous road. He ends wakes up in a burn unit with third degree burns over most of his body. To make things worse, if that is even possible, he spilled a bottle of bourbon in his lap right before his accident, and his “livelihood” is burnt beyond repair and is removed. He wants his life to end. Throughout his recovery, rather than planning what he will do once he is released from the hospital, he plans his suicide. And then a beautiful ,but visibly disturbed, gargoyle sculptress appears in his room and is certain that they were lovers in medieval Germany. He is released into her care and he is ultimately convinced that the story she tells of their history must be true. This second chance at love is completely implausible, but I was drawn in from the beginning. Davidson’s tale of love is strange yet mesmerizing. This debut author has immense talent and I look forward to reading more of his work. 08/08 Jennifer Lawrence

THE GATE HOUSE by Nelson DeMille: DeMille returns to his roots, so to speak, in this long awaited sequel to The Gold Coast, originally published almost twenty years ago. That book offered a glimpse into the lifestyle of the rich and privileged, the old money who lived on the North Shore of Long Island on the fabulous estates dubbed the “Gold Coast”. In DeMille’s version, the Mafia moves in next door and all sorts of bedlam follows. It’s a great read that still holds up well. This sequel, unfortunately, does not hold up quite as well. Our main protagonists, John and Susan, are back, only they are divorced and haven’t seen each other in a number of years. An old family servant is dying, and both return for the imminent funeral, John in his role as attorney and executor of the estate, and Susan in her role as friend and employer. Unfortunately, the Bellarosa family is still in the neighborhood too – while the Don is long dead, his son is still around and seeking revenge against his father’s murderer. The problem with the sequel lies in that the story centers around John and Susan reconciling, and not much else really happens in this overly long book. If you like family dramas, then this is your book, but if you’re looking for the action and thrills and even the wit of a more typical DeMille book, you won’t find it here until the very end. While it is not necessary to have read The Gold Coast to read the sequel, it is a real disservice not to – it is a far superior book. 11/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE GATEKEEPER by Michelle Gagnon: Michelle Gagnon’s third Kelly Jones/Jake Riley thriller is a timely and somewhat disturbing read. Jake Riley’s venture into the private sector is slowly paying off when he and his partner are hired for one of their toughest cases yet. A scientist’s teenage daughter has been kidnapped and the ransom is quite different from the usual. This time, the people responsible want information rather than money, and it’s information that could mean the safety of the nation. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Kelly Jones has been assigned to investigate the recent murder of an Arizona senator who had some sensitive and very public opinions on immigration. Evidence strongly suggests that a local gang is behind the killing, but things are just a little too neat for Jones’s taste. Could it be that open and shut or is there much more to this case hidden below the surface? Fans of the series will once again be on the edge of their seats throughout The Gatekeeper, but the end will leave them dying to know what comes next for the pair. 12/09 Becky Lejeune

GATEKEEPER by Philip Shelby: Hollis Fremont, a functionary at the American embassy in Paris, is duped by her superior and boyfriend, Paul McGann, into accompanying a man she believes to be a small-fry criminal back to the States for country-club prison incarceration. In fact, the rumpled old man turns out to be “the Handyman,” a freelance assassin on a mission. Think Le Carre and Forsyth updated for today. Perfect for anyone with international conspiracy paranoia, like me. 02/06 Jack Quick

GATOR A-GO-GO by Tim Dorsey: Tim Dorsey’s loveable psychotic Florida history buff/murderer, Serge Storms, is on the road again. He is doing his best Ken Burns impersonation as he tries to film a documentary about EVERYTHING. Since nothing but Serge’s sidekick, slacker par excellence Coleman, moves slowly in Dorsey’s humorous crime novels, the focus of the movie swiftly narrows down to a history of that collegiate ritual – Spring Break in Florida.
A strange chemistry envelops our two heroes, Serge and Coleman, as they begin to mingle with the hordes of fun-seekers. First, Coleman attracts a throng of followers who treat him as near god-like for his ability to provide expert advice on such critical matters as the best way to keep your beer cold at the beach and his special brownie recipe. Then, Serge attracts his old female friends, City and Country, and adopts a reluctant spring-breaker who is being pursued by both the mob and the authorities after his father’s witness protection identity is exposed.
This group’s road trip travels backwards in Spring Break history, starting in the Florida Panhandle, moving to Daytona and finally ending in Ft. Lauderdale where Spring Break began because that’s “where the boys are.” Craziness and humor are a part of the journey as Serge dispatches various bad guys in his normal creative fashion and dispenses a history lesson at every turn, including a little homage to John D. MacDonald.
My personal favorite part of the book is a review of Serge’s kindergarten graduation address. “Don’t try to be different. That will make you different. Don’t try to be popular. If you’re already popular, you’ve peaked too soon. Always walk away from a fight. Then ambush…Now get out of there, class of 2020, and take back our state.”
If there was ever a book that screamed “Take me on Spring Break,” this is it. However, if you happen to read it before or after, you will still be transported on a hilarious journey in your mind. Cheers. 02/10 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

GAUNTLET by Richard Aaron: Somewhat rambling but very enjoyable debut thriller that pits Afghan Yousseff Said al-Sabbhan, a drug-smuggling terrorist, against the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, a secret agency staffed by men and women drawn from every sector of the U.S. intelligence community. The plot is complex, the characters are interesting and the suspense is palpable. A primary figure in the battle is an autistic mathematician Hamilton Turbee, a TTIC employee, who is surely one of the more interesting and endearing heroes ever to star in an action adventure novel. While there are lots of toys and cutting edge technology it all comes down to boots on the ground old fashioned police work, but isn’t that always the case. There is already talk of not one, but two, sequels. Hope they come through. 08/09 Jack Quick

THE GEMINI VIRUS by Wil Mara: Bob Easton doesn’t get sick. No colds, no flus, nothing. He’s stringent in his care of his health and is convinced that he will live a long life as a result. He’s wrong. It begins with a fever and body aches, s–oon Easton is weak and coughing up a storm, spreading germs to all those around him. As the virus spreads, the flu-like symptoms progress and the victims soon find themselves covered in blisters. Before long, many of them are driven completely mad. The mortality rate is staggering and within days the infection is seen in states all over the country. Michael Beck is an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control. He’s sent to the center of the outbreak in hopes of discovering what caused the growing epidemic. As he investigates, others search for a treatment or a cure. But the contagion is spreading so fast that containment is completely out of the question. Dennis Jensen had thought that isolation would save his family from the infection, now his only hope is that someone might find a way to beat the virus before his family succumbs. Wil Mara’s latest is a super gory and super chilling tale of a catastrophic pandemic. 10/12 Becky Lejeune

THE GENVEVA OPTION by Adam LeBor: Yael Azoulay’s career with the UN involves negotiating with some of the toughest characters the world over. She’s just successfully struck a deal with Jean-Pierre Hakizimani that will hopefully mean an end to mass genocide in eastern Congo. The downside is that Hakizimani comes off light for his crimes. But it’s the UN’s only hope for ending years of horrible feuding in the area. Unfortunately, Yael returns home to discover that a private correspondence outlining the terms of the agreement has been leaked to the press. Yael finds herself not only out of a job, but accused of spreading the story. She gets help in the form of an anonymous email that includes a taped conversation concerning the very same crimes she was negotiating a pardon for. The voices on the tape are UN insiders. With her reputation and now her life at stake, Yael will have to infiltrate the very organization she was once part of in order to find out the truth. If she fails, the consequences could have dire ramifications for the UN and the US government. LeBor launches a new series with The Geneva Option and it promises to be a great one amongst the ranks of espionage thrillers. 7/13 Becky Lejeune

GENGHIS: BIRTH OF AN EMPIRE by Conn Iggulden: Born Temujin, son of Yesugei Khan of the Wolves, Genghis Khan was destined to be a leader. At twelve years of age, it became Temujin’s responsibility to protect and provide for his family after their own people betrayed them. Yesugei had been murdered and his second in command took over the role of Khan, denying Yesugei’s heirs their rightful position. In order to protect himself from factions within the tribe who disagreed with this decision, the man exiled the family, leaving them with only the clothes on their backs and hoping that they would die of starvation. The family survives, but Temujin is forced to kill his own brother after discovering that he has been stealing much needed food from the others. Years pass and the Wolves return to the area. The new Khan sends scouts to find out if the family has survived and Temujin’s chance for revenge is close at hand. Temujin begins uniting the wandering tribeless Mongols, creating and becoming Khan of his own tribe. In his latest work, Conn Iggulden brings this legendary figure to life, chronicling the start of his rise to power. Readers of historical fiction will appreciate this realistic and gripping look at a young Genghis Khan. 05/07 Becky Lejeune

GENTLEMEN AND PLAYERS by Joanne Harris: No one suspects that the new student at St. Oswald’s is actually the porter’s kid in disguise. The student who calls himself Pinchbeck infiltrates the school, at first with only the intention of observing. Soon, Pinchbeck befriends another student at St. Oswald’s and the two wreak innocent havoc on campus. All the while, no one suspects that Pinchbeck does not belong at all. Then, Pinchbeck’s innocent prank results in a horrible accident and everything changes. Now, Pinchbeck is back and intent on revenge at St. Oswald’s. Of particular interest to Pinchbeck is Classics teacher Roy Straitley who he holds singularly responsible for that terrible accident that occurred so long ago. Harris is one of my absolute favorite authors. She is able to appeal to such a wide variety of readers thanks to her very diverse collection of work. Gentlemen and Players is more of a mystery than any of her previous work and is sure to delight new readers as well as old. 02/07 Becky Lejeune

THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti: It’s 1863 and Mimi and Imre are happy beyond compare. At least until a messenger sent by Mimi’s mother warns of her impending death. In spite of their troublesome relationship, Mimi wants to see her mother one last time, to say goodbye. Imre begs her not to, but Mimi is insistent. Upon their arrival, they find that they are too late, Mimi’s mother Anyeta is already dead. They also find a caravan of people who are more than happy to be rid of Anyeta and her evil, but unfortunately are still under her terrible spell. To rid themselves of her torment, they are been planning to burn the body and warn Imre not to allow Mimi get too close. Imre is too late, however, and the peoples’ worst fears are realized when Anyeta transfers her spirit not into Mimi, but into her cousin, Zahara. Imre’s judgement is clouded by his own feelings for Zahara and his fears of Anyeta and soon falls under her spell as well. If he cannot gather enough will to fight, he may lose his wife and his young daughter to the witch as well. Lisa Mannetti explores the fascinating mythology and superstition of the Romany/Gypsies in this chilling tale of love and evil. 01/09 Becky Lejeune

GERM by Robert Liparulo: Liparulo takes the concept of germ warfare to a higher level. The Ebola virus has been modified so that it can seek and destroy specific individuals based on their DNA. Ten thousand people are on the list for infection, and it’s up to special agent Julia Matheson to stop the horror. While the narrative wanders a bit and the cast of characters is extensive, the action is fast paced with lots of technical details especially in the gathering and communication of information that help differentiate this story from the run-of-the-mill thriller. 11/06 Jack Quick

GET LUCKY by Katherine Center: Sarah Harper screwed up. After sending an email full of boobs around the office mailing list, she’s predictably let go from her high-profile advertising job. Her plan is to travel home for the holidays and regroup, returning to New York to start fresh after a short vacation. Her plans changed. Sarah’s sister, Mackie, has discovered that she cannot have children. In a stroke of genius that will turn Sarah’s world upside down, she decides that she will carry her sister’s child for her, giving her the life-changing gift of motherhood. But nothing goes exactly as planned and Sarah has taken the first steps on a journey that will teach her the true meaning of love and happiness. Center’s latest is a heartwarming read that fans will surely fall in love with. Get Lucky is both funny and touching. 04/10 Becky Lejeune

GETTING LUCKY by D. C. Brod: If newspapers die, as many predict, will the reporter as super-sleuth genre die with them? When a young reporter is killed in a hit and run accident, freelance writer Robyn Guthrie agrees to finish one of the stories the reporter had been writing for the local newspaper. I can solve this mystery in less time than it takes to make up a front page or create color separations. 12/11 Jack Quick

GETTING OFF: A NOVEL OF SEX AND VIOLENCE by Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson: This is no Bernie Rhodenbarr book; this is dark, dark, compelling reading. Our main character is a young woman who changes her name every few pages. She picks up a man, has sex with him, kills him, grabs whatever cash she can and moves on to another city and does it again. She is no black widow, she doesn’t marry these men. As she continues this journey we learn her back story, what compels her to do this and what, if anything, might get her to stop. This book is a real throwback to the golden age of hard-boiled mysteries where redemption is not always an option, and not every crime is punished. Somehow Block pulls it all together and makes it work. Not for the faint of heart for sure but I loved it. 09/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GETTING OFF: A NOVEL OF SEX AND VIOLENCE by Lawrence Block: Kit Tolliver leads a simple life. She goes to bars in New York City, leaves with an interested man, has sex with him – and kills him. She cleans out his wallet, changes her name and address and keeps on moving. All is fine, until a chance remark causes her to think of the men who got away, for whatever reason. So she starts writing down names and becomes s a girl with a mission. Picking up their trails. Hunting them down. Crossing them off her list… Block wrote this as Jill Emerson and while portions have appeared in previous anthologies this is the first complete printing of this first rate crime story. 12/11 Jack Quick

Getting Over It by Anna Maxted: British import a la Bridget Jones, with a slightly more serious side, dealing with a family death amidst the romance. Not as serious as it sounds, it’s still a fun read. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GHOST DANCER by John Case: Jack Wilson is the Ghost Dancer, an ex-con with a burning hatred against the US fueled by his losing a patent idea and the country’s treatment of his Native American ancestors. He thinks he has the secret to re-creating a harmonic resonance weapon, alleged to have been used by Nikolai Tesla to cause the explosion that left the Tunguska crater in Siberia in 1908. Partnering with an Al-Qaeda offshoot, Wilson plans his attack, while US intelligence services are portrayed as being incompetent and out of touch. As a consequence it falls on accidental participant Mike Burke to stop the plot. Far fetched, but what do you expect in a techno-thriller. Recommended. 09/06 Jack Quick

Ghost Image by Joshua Gilder: In this medical thriller à la Michael Palmer and Robin Cook, Dr. Jackson Maebry, heir-apparent to Dr. Brandt, plastic surgeon to the stars, happens to be the surgeon on call when a brutally beaten and burned young woman is brought into the trauma center at San Francisco’s Memorial Hospital. As Jackson begins working on her, he slowly realizes that beneath the bruising, broken bones and burns, this heretofore unrecognizable woman is actually his lover, Allie Sorosh. Somehow, he keeps that fact to himself as he assists the surgical team in its first attempt to repair the damage that was inflicted. As the story convolves, Allie’s mysterious past proves troubling, friends and colleagues are not what they seem to be, and people start dying under questionable circumstances. Meanwhile, Jackson becomes the prime suspect in the attack while having to deal with hospital politics as well as his own personal demons. Ghost Image is a very gripping debut novel that fairly hurtles towards its final pages. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GHOST OF A CHANCE by Amy Patricia Meade: It’s two guys and a doll, or maybe that should be two pros and a new guy. Any way in 1935 it’s not ladylike to mix in murder but for mystery writer Marjorie McClelland, its part of the job, and for her fiancé, police detective Robert Jameson, it’s why he was hired. The joker in the case is wealthy Englishman Creighton Ashcroft. Is he really interested in crime solving or in one of the crime solvers? Thickening the plot is the fact that the victim left behind two wives and a huge gambling debt. The only thing round in this batch of triangles is the Ferris wheel upon which the victim is found death. No more clues, you’ll have to read it yourself. 05/07 Jack Quick

THE GHOST ORCHID by Carol Goodman: What happens when the past and present collide at this haven for artists? Ellis Brooks, a first time novelist, is about to find out as she unravels the mysteries of Bosco in this picturesque tale. The dual story line of this novel provides a thrilling and captivating read. Present day, Ellis and fellow artists are experiencing strange occurrences that seem to be an almost exact repeat of what happened in the home a century earlier. In 1893, Milo Latham, the original owner of the Bosco estate, hosted a séance to contact her dead children. The rest is a mystery that still haunts the house today. What really happened on that fateful night nearly 100 years ago? Are there really ghosts at Bosco? What Ellis discovers while researching her novel is ultimately one family’s eerie and well-kept secret – a secret that will connect Ellis to Bosco in ways she could never imagine. 11/06 Becky LeJeune

GHOST ROAD BLUES by Jonathan Maberry: Thirty years ago, the town of Pine Deep put a killer to rest. Today, the town has become one of the top Halloween destinations, and the events of all those years ago have been all but forgotten. All that is about to change, though, as evil rises once again. Malcolm Crow hasn’t forgotten about the killings. His own brother and his best friend’s sister were victims. He knew the true identity of the killer and knows that the town lynched the wrong man. He also knows that the man who was accused of the crimes was supposed to have killed the real perpetrator, but when a criminal hiding out in Pine Deep whispers a name Crow thought he would never hear again, he knows Pine Deep is in for a lot of trouble. Ghost Road Blues is just the first in Maberry’s Pine Deep trilogy and sets the bar for what looks like a great new talent in the horror industry. Winner of the 2006 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. 11/08 Becky Lejeune

THE GHOST WRITER by John Harwood: At thirteen, Gerard discovers a key that unlocks a drawer in his mother’s bedroom. In the drawer, he discovers three things: a book, an envelope containing a sheaf of typewritten pages, and a photograph of a young woman. His mother’s fury at discovering her son stooped over these items is terrifying. Later, in an attempt to discover more about the photo and the reason that these items are kept under lock and key, Gerard tried to get his mother to reveal more about her childhood in England. She had always been more than happy to tell Gerard about her childhood at Staplefield, her grandmother Viola and her best friend Rosalind. After discovering Gerard snooping though, she refuses to speak of England again. That same year, through a school pen-pal program, Gerard meets Alice, a girl his own age, living in England, who was orphaned and crippled in an accident. A later search of his mother’s room reveals that all items, save the book, have since been moved. The book contains a Victorian ghost story penned by a V. H. As an adult, Gerard finally takes a trip to England to meet Alice and discover more about his family’s history. Alice refuses to meet him and his attempts to find both her and Staplefield are futile. Gerard tries again, after his mother’s death and he discovers that his mother may have been hiding a shocking and dangerous secret. The novel itself contains multiple creepy ghost stories all providing clues about Gerard’s mother and her hidden past. Harwood’s fiction debut is nothing short of brilliant. A fantastically modern gothic tale. 10/06 Becky LeJeune

GHOSTGIRL by Tonya Hurley: Charlotte Usher would give anything to be the popular girl and to get her dream guy, Damen Dylan. But just when it seems like everything is going her way, she chokes on a gummy bear and dies. Now Charlotte’s the new girl in a whole different “school,” Dead-Ed. Turns out, there are a handful of dead teens haunting the halls of Hawthorne High and each of them has unresolved issues that are keeping them from crossing over. Charlotte is sure that her own issue somehow involves Damen and the Fall Ball. When she discovers that a living student can actually see her, Charlotte’s plans finally begin to fall into place. But Charlotte’s fraternizing with the living is not pleasing her new dead friends. Can she find a way move on and still get what she wants more than anything else in the world? A spunky teen tale that’s silly and touching, Ghostgirl is all about finding out who you are and learning to love yourself. Hurley’s debut runs more along the lines of, say, Meg Cabot than Stephenie Meyer and will appeal to teen readers who enjoy lighter stories (no major scares in this one). 09/08 Becky Lejeune

GHOSTMAN by Roger Hobbs: Jack is a ghost, a master of disguise and disappearance, who works bank robberies. He is the antithesis of another famous ghost, Jack Reacher. The story moves between a casino robbery gone bad and a botched bank robbery in Malaysia several years earlier. Jack botched the bank job, and his debt is called when the casino heist turns into a blood bath and the money goes missing. Jack is called in to find the money and deliver it. This is a fast paced, intricate story filled with interesting characters and locations. This book has been getting a lot of press, good press, and it has been optioned for a film. The author wrote it while in college and is now 22 years old. This definitely feels like the beginning of a long writing career. 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GHOSTS OF BUNGO SUIDO by P T Deutermann: Riveting tale of a submariner sent in late 1944 to destroy a newly-built aircraft carrier, ready to launch from Japan’s heavily-defended and mined Inland Sea. No American submarine has penetrated the Inland Sea; five boats and their crews have perished in the Bungo Suido strait. Lieutenant Commander Gar Hammond—an aggressive, attacking leader with a reckless streak—is now captain of a new submarine. Hammond may be the navy’s only hope to locate and stop the Japanese super-ship before it launches . . . if it even exists. Woven into the story are fascinating insights regarding the atomic boms falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a definitely twisty ending. Recommended. 10/13 Jack Quick
GHOSTS OF SLEATH by James Herbert: Paranormal investigator David Ash returns in this chilling and atmospheric sequel to Haunted. Ash specializes in investigating and disproving paranormal activity, but he is still suffering the ill effects of his investigation three years ago at Edbrook. Still, cynical and slightly too reliant on his flask of vodka, he is one of the best the Psychical Research Institute has on staff. It is with some hesitation that the institute sends David out to the village of Sleath where multiple hauntings have been reported. The local vicar’s daughter has requested the institute’s help after her own father admits to having seen one of the specters. It begins with the death of a local woman’s son. After the funeral she becomes a shut-in unwilling to leave or even admit guests. It’s not that she’s upset by her loss, it’s that she believes her son has been visiting her from beyond the grave. Then, a local teenage girl wakes to find her childhood abuser standing over her in her sleep. The man died in prison not long after being sentenced, though. Something is very wrong in the village of Sleath and it’s David’s job to uncover the dark secrets behind these events. Herbert is great at combining psychological horror with the truly grotesque. Ghosts of Sleath is unfortunately currently out of print in the US but still readily available in the UK. 10/08 Becky Lejeune

G.I. BONES by Martin Limon: U.S. Army criminal investigators George Sueño and Ernie Bascom are looking into the more than 20-year-old case of Tech. Sgt. Florencio R. Moretti, who went missing in 1953 and is presumed dead. As they search for the truth in Seoul, Korea’s red-light district, Itaewon, they uncover a past of military and government corruption, prostitution and murder. Having served in Korea during the early 1970’s as did Limon I can attest to his skill in capturing the time and place exactly. This is the sixth outing in a series that just keeps getting better and better. Hope to see many more in the years ahead. 11/10 Jack Quick

GIDEON’S CORPSE by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: Preston and Douglas have a large number of successful novels between them. The majority of these books feature plots involving events just beyond the ordinary. Gideon’s Corpse is the second volume in a series involving high adventures by the brilliant Gideon Crew. This not a tongue in cheek statement since Crew has a brilliant academic background and experience with the extraordinary. It was discovered in the first volume about him: Gideon’s Sword that he has an inoperable brain defect and only has a year to live. One needn’t feel sorry for Crew – he is thrown into one of a kind adventures by a secret government organization that is giving him a chance to serve his fellow man and not get too maudlin with his problem. In this book the organization asks Crew to look into an apparent plot by Al Quada to nuke Washington and New York. There are apparently only 10 days to come up with the solution and solve the case. Every thing points to the plot involving Al Quada terrorists until an extremely well thought out crucial point brings out a completely diametrically opposed solution with Crew pinpointing the path to resolution. It is very obvious that additional Gideon Crew books are planned by the authors pointing out that the imminent end of life needn’t take away the zest for it while it exists. Crew’s brilliant mind will surely be given free rein in solving other problems that are just beyond the norm. 2/12 Paul Lane

GIMME A CALL by Sarah Mlynowski: What would you do if you had the chance to change your life? If you were able to talk to your younger self and thus avoid the pitfalls and bad decisions of your past? This is what happens to seventeen-year-old Devi. After a bad breakup with her boyfriend, a trip to the mall leaves her phone waterlogged and able to call just one number: her own at age fourteen. It doesn’t take long for Devi to decide that this is her chance to step in and change things. She can get better grades and get into a better school, she can spend more time with her friends before it’s too late, and she can make sure that she never falls for Bryan, the boy who broke her heart. But every step past Devi makes does change things for future Devi and not always for the best. Mlynowksi’s latest is a quick and fun read for teens that will also have adult readers wondering “what if?” 05/10 Becky Lejeune

THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT by Laura Lippman: This is Lippman’s homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and it originally ran as a serial in the New York Times Magazine. I didn’t read the serial so I have no basis for comparison, but generally speaking when they turn those into books there may be additions and significant editing. This is a Tess Monahan vehicle, only things have changed a bit for Tess. She is pregnant and having a tough time of it; due to complications, she is put on bed rest, unable to get out of bed other than for bathroom breaks. She moves out onto the newly renovated sunporch, the front door remains unlocked for people to come by with food for her, and she keeps her iPhone and laptop at hand. Not a fun way to spend a pregnancy, (and I speak from experience.) Tess watches the world go by outside her window, and can’t help noticing a girl in a green raincoat walking her little dog, who is similarly attired, every afternoon. Until the afternoon when the dog is running free and there is no sign of the girl in the green raincoat. Even from her bed, Tess investigates, utilizing her friends and family to help out. It’s a very compelling story with interesting characters, lots of red herrings, and a satisfying ending. For me, it was also very personal and very emotional as well. Another terrific read from this very talented author. 1/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GIRL OF NIGHTMARES by Kendare Blake: When an angry spirit causes trouble, it is Cas’s job to get rid of said spirit. Cas went to Thunder Bay in search of a ghost the locals called Anna Dressed in Blood. But when Cas confronted Anna, he found that there was more to her than he’d expected. Cas freed Anna from the curse that hounded her since her death and in return Anna descended into a hellish world in exchange for Cas’s life. Though Anna is gone, Cas can’t let her go. Everyone thinks it’s all in his head, but Cas is convinced that Anna still needs his help. Anna Dressed in Blood set the bar pretty high but I have to say that Girl of Nightmares met, and in some cases exceeded, all of my expectations. This duology is richly imagined and chillingly detailed. Though this could be the end of Cas and Anna’s story, I’ll be anxiously awaiting whatever comes next from Blake. 8/12 Becky Lejeune

THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON by Sarah Addison Allen: Emily Benedict’s world has been turned upside-down. Her mother has died and Emily is faced with returning to a home that was never her own. Emily’s mother left Mullaby, North Carolina and never looked back. Emily never heard the stories of what happened there and she never met her grandfather, Vance, or any of her mother’s old friends. But Emily has nowhere else to go. Her arrival in Mullaby is met with suspicion and unease, for Emily’s mother has long been held responsible for one of the town’s most tragic events. In spite of this, Julia Winterson is determined to make Emily feel welcome. Julia knows all too well the pains of being an unpopular teenager, but Julia also knows how to move on with your life and make the best of what you’re given. The Girl Who Chased the Moon is a charming read that’s as delicious as BBQ and hummingbird cake on a warm Southern night. 03/10 Becky Lejeune

THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE by David Cristofano: I loved this amazing debut novel that’s a little off the well-beaten track of murder and mayhem. “She used to be” six-year-old Melody Grace McCarthy, until she and her parents accidentally witnessed a Mafia execution. The whole family is whisked into the federal Witness Protection Program, and this is the story of how a young girl grew up in the program, changing her name and address as necessary – every mysterious phone call, or suspicious behavior was cause for another move. Then one day a tall, handsome stranger approaches Melody and knows her real name, her real story. Talk about opposites attracting; he’s the son of the murderer. Thus begins a romance on the run and against the odds, but can it work? I won’t tell, but I will tell that Cristofano is a very gifted storyteller. 03/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE GIRL WITH GLASS FEET by Ali Shaw: Midas Crook has lived his whole life on St. Hauda’s Land, a tiny island where everyone knows everyone and no one can keep secrets. Ida Maclaird has returned to the island in hopes that she can track down the one person who may be able to help her. See, Ida is turning into glass. When Midas happens upon Ida one afternoon, the two find themselves drawn to one another in a way that they’ve never experienced. As time runs out for Ida, she begins to fall in love with Midas. But Midas’s own feelings are guarded and hidden thanks to his strange childhood. The small, secluded setting, mythical beings and occurrences, and haunting tone of this story bring to mine the fairy tales that inspire Shaw’s writing. The Girl With Glass Feet is a beautiful, touching, and heartbreaking story. A wonderful book that leaves the reader wondering, what if… 01/10 Becky Lejeune

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson: Stieg Larsson’s U.S. debut is by far one of the most talked about books of 2008, and the praise is well deserved. Financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist has made a mistake that could cost him his career and his reputation. After being convicted of slander and libel against a local businessman, Blomkvist agrees to accept a job from business mogul Henrik Vanger. In 1966, the Vanger family was gearing up for a huge meeting when Henrik’s great niece Harriet vanished. At the time of her disappearance, much of the family was present at the Vanger estate on the island of Hedeby. That afternoon, the island was completely cut off thanks to an accident that occurred on the bridge connecting it to the mainland. No sign of Harriet’s body was ever found, but Henrik strongly believes that Harriet was murdered that night and that one of his own family is responsible. Henrik hires Blomkvist to try and uncover the truth about Harriet and Blomkvist reluctantly accepts even though he believes the effort is futile. Larsson’s debut is just the first installment of his bestselling and award-winning Millennium Series. Like the best mysteries and thrillers, every twist in this tale is completely unexpected. I absolutely loved it. The translation is smooth and the story itself really drew me in. Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo) is an intriguing character all by herself and her own involvement in the tale is utterly enthralling. The next title in the trilogy is due out in 2010 and I can’t wait. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson: Mikael Bloomkvist, a Swedish financial journalist, is convicted of committing libel against a powerful and manipulating businessman, Hans-Eric Wennerström. As he awaits the start of his jail sentence, Bloomkvist is approached by Henrik Vanger, an aging industrialist and is hired to investigate the disappearance of Vagner’s niece, Harriet. Harriet went missing forty years ago from the family’s small island village. Teamed up with Lisbeth Salander, an eccentric and tattooed computer hacker, Bloomkvist begins to delve into the Vanger family history. They uncover a horrid past littered with abuse, lies, and murder. The storyline of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was a little slow at first, but it quickly reveals itself to be an amazing story that any fan of mystery would love. The characters are powerful and the story line, once it picked up, was faced paced and thrilling. Fortunately, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is the first of a Millennium trilogy. Unfortunately, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (2009 release), and CASTLES IN THE SKY (2010 release) are the last books written before Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004. All three have become international best sellers. I anxiously and impatiently await their release in the US. 09/08 Jennifer Lawrence

THE GIRL WITH THE LONG GREEN HEART by Lawrence Block: Never, ever, ever promise a female employee you are going to marry her unless you really intend to. Real estate entrepreneur Wallace Gunderman of Olean, New York will tell you that this is a lesson he learned the hard way in this Lawrence Block thriller, Hardcase Crime Number 14. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, particularly a good looking one like Evelyn Stone, Gunderman’s secretary, lover, and worst enemy. With her help Johnny Hayden and Doug Rance are going for the gold, and they aren’t in the Olympics either. Another great Lawrence Block tale. 02/07 Jack Quick

Girls’ Poker Night by Jill A. David: Light and frothy contemporary romance between NYC columnist and her boss from a former writer of the The Late Show (David Letterman). Fast & fun.

THE GIVEN DAY by Dennis Lehane: It’s been several years since the last Lehane novel, but all I can say is it was worth the wait. Set at the end of WWI, Lehane paints an utterly fascinating picture of life in Boston from the North End to the South End. No story about Boston would be complete without mentioning the Babe, and Lehane takes us through early baseball prior to the curse of the Bambino, and in fact, Babe Ruth is one of the richly drawn characters whose story is secondary to those of mere mortal men; particularly, Danny Coughlin, son of a powerful, Irish police captain, and Luther Laurence, a man of color on the run from gangsters and the law. Danny’s a beat cop who is appalled at the way his fellow police officers are treated; terribly underpaid (the janitors make more), working 70 hours a week as a matter of course in station houses that are overrun with vermin and filth. Luther lands a job as houseman to the Coughlin family, and their lives and their stories overlap, violence and race always a part of it, until the dramatic ending. Cameo appearances include Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge and a young Federal agent named John Hoover. A thoroughly fascinating and engaging read, sure to land on many best books of the year lists, including my own. 10/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS by Gordon Dahlquist: When Roger Bascombe abruptly breaks off their engagement, Celeste Temple is determined to discover why. She follows him to a strange mansion in the countryside where glamorous masked guests view a strange demonstration. From that moment on, Miss Temple’s life is forever changed. Cardinal Chang, known for his scarlet colored coat and the violent scars that cover his face, has been hired to kill a certain soldier. Chang finds the soldier, already dead by someone else’s hand. Doctor Abelard Svenson has been charged with the safety and well being of the Prince of Macklenburg, until he loses his prince. These three unlikely allies will soon find themselves fighting together against an evil cabal and the invention that would allow them to rule the world. Dahlquist’s grand and ambitious novel is an intricate work of art and a perfect debut. 09/06 Becky LeJeune

THE GLASS RAINBOW by James Lee Burke: There is a saying where I grew up that “a bad day fishing is still better than a good day at work,” which might be an apt description of the latest Dave Robicheaux. It’s not the best one ever written, but it is James Lee Burke, with his gift for penning descriptions that put you absolutely in the middle of the story. Dave has major problems in this one. Adopted daughter, Alafair, now grown-up and taking a semester off from law school to finish a novel has returned home. She also has become involved with Kermit Abelard, a writer who is also the son of one of the region’s most notorious robber barons. Dave is investigating Kermit, along with his friend, an ex-con turned best-selling memoirist, regarding the deaths of several area young women, which puts him squarely at odds with Alafair. Clete is close to meltdown and dodges a serious jail term only because someone has subsequently killed the lowlife that Clete tried to turn into a woodpecker (by banging his head against a pecan tree trunk). At one point Clete comes close to eating his gun, while Dave’s frustration mounts to the point of seriously threatening his hard won sobriety. It’s all kind of dark and gloomy, much like the swamps and bayous around New Iberia. I recommend it for those like me who are avid fans of Burke, but would suggest the casual reader not judge this fine author solely by this book. 09/10 Jack Quick

GLASS TIGER by Joe Gores: Brendan Thorne has escaped from his past as a former CIA assassin, taking refuge as the lone white camp guard at Kenya’s premier game park. But Thorne is deported back to the States on a trumped-up poaching charge and forced to track down a would-be presidential assassin. The assassin, Hal Corwin, is a former Vietnam sniper who has apparently killed his own daughter, a campaign advisor to President Gustave Wallberg. Now Corwin has his sights set on Wallberg himself, and Thorne is the only one who has a chance of stopping him. But is everything as it appears? Sometimes it’s hard to tell right from wrong, even with a program. Well written, and engaging right up to the surprising conclusion. 02/07 Jack Quick

GLIMMER by Phoebe Kitanidis: Elyse Alton and Marshall King can’t remember who they are. They can’t remember their names, they can’t remember each other’s names, and they certainly can’t recall how they ended up tangled together in bed. Apparently, at least according to Elyse’s mother, they’re having a “moment.” Lots of people in Summer Falls have “moments”—gaps in their memory, sudden collapses into what the locals call “heatnaps”—but Elyse can see things that others can’t. Elyse can see the ghosts that walk amongst them in Summer Falls. Marshall and Elyse are driven to discover the truth about the small town, especially when they uncover Marshall’s past and the circumstances surrounding the death of his mother. From the start, the reader has no idea what is coming in Glimmer. Elyse and Marshall are unreliable narrators in the sense that the reader only learns as much as they do as the story occurs. It made Glimmer an enthralling read from start to finish and one with a great premise. 4/12 Becky Lejeune

GLITTER OF DIAMONDS by N.J. Linquist: Be careful what you wish for – or at least be careful what you say. Outspoken Sports Talk-show host Stasey Simon asked on-air for a volunteer to knock some sense into the one of the home team’s temperamental pitchers. Maybe she was kidding, but it doesn’t look good when a body is found in the team’s bullpen. This is the second outing for Toronto detectives Paul Manziuk and Jacqueline Ryan, with a cast of characters with a capital C – all manner of players, a Marilyn Monroe wannabe and the potential for an international incident. The bases are loaded, it’s the bottom of the ninth, who is on first, I don’t know, keep reading to find out the answer in this nicely done “classical” mystery. The only criticism is the “pre-game is excessively long – almost a third of the book before the serious action starts. 05/07 Jack Quick

GLOVER’S MISTAKE by Nick Laird: Glover’s Mistake is Irish poet Nick Laird’s second novel and shows considerable growth while continuing his clever use of language and mordant look at society. His first book, Utterly Monkey, almost felt like a lark – as though he were simply out to prove that poets could too write novels. Perhaps an effort to tease his then-girl friend, now wife, novelist Zadie Smith.
This time, Laird is serious. Well, more serious anyway. Glover’s Mistake seemed to me to be in many ways, a novel of manners. I was reminded of Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth. Just as Wharton examined the plight of those who were cursed to be born into a class without advantages, Laird examines the plight of the educated but unattractive and lonely man in contemporary urban society.
That man is a pedantic private school teacher, David Pinner. The story revolves around his relationships with his roommate, Glover, a bartender, who has the advantages of looks and likeability and, Ruth, a former teacher who has become a relatively well-known artist and has the advantage of real talent. David bumbles his way into the beginning of a relationship with Ruth and then, unfortunately, brings her back to his flat. There, Ruth and Glover are taken with each other. David is gradually left behind as the relationship between Ruth and Glover gets deeper and deeper, leading to sex (which he sadly happens to stumble on) and an intended marriage.
Although I was initially inclined to feel some sympathy for David, it turns out that he is not only one not to give up, but one willing to act underhandedly and maliciously to simply destroy what he can’t have. Glover’s mistake is his continuing assumption of David’s support and good intentions as evidence mounts to the contrary. Some reviewers have been put off by Laird’s occasional use of obscure or especially high-flown or slangy language. Poets are fascinated with words and I like that kind of thing. I am looking forward to Laird’s next book. 08/09 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan: Earth is on its last leg and two ships have been sent out in search of a new world. They know that it will take years to reach their new home, so they are tasked not only with cultivating a world’s worth of plants and animals, but in ensuring their own children will carry on their mission. Something has gone terribly wrong, though, and one ship has attacked the other, kidnapping all of their girls and killing most of the adults. As the remaining boys fend for themselves and attempt chase, trouble in their own ranks sets them against one another. And the girls have discovered that the other ship has no children. This is the first in a new dystopian trilogy for teens. It’s a good premise that brings up some really frightening issues. I found the beginning a bit choppy, but once the action starts, the book picks up quite a bit. I’m curious to see what could come next for the travelers. 09/11 Becky Lejeune
GO-GO GIRLS OF THE APOCALYPSE by Victor Gischler: “This is how Mortimer Tate ending up killing the first three human beings he’d laid eyes on in nearly a decade:” What an opening line. Mortimer Tate, a recently divorced insurance salesman holes up in a cave on top of a mountain in Tennessee to ride out the end of the world. Nine years later he emerges to a post apocalyptic landscape covered with abandoned automobiles, where the only source of electricity is provided by indentured servants pedaling stationary bicycles. The only semblance of life as it was revolves around Joey Armageddon’s Sassy A-Go-Go strip clubs, where the beer is cold, the lap dancers are hot, and the bouncers are armed with M16s. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Tate picks up some needy companions – cowboy Buffalo Bill, former stripper Sheila, and mountain man Ted. Together they journey to the lost city of Atlanta in a desperate attempt to save what is left of mankind. James Rollins says it best in his blurb, “Who would have guessed the book was even better than the title?” I concur. 08/08 Jack Quick

GO THE F**K TO SLEEP by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Ricardo Cortés: This looks like a children’s picture book but is anything but. This is a picture book for adults – adults who have children. Probably one of the most clever and original books to come out in a long while, the pdf done before publication went viral, and the finished book took the media by storm. It debuted at the top of the NY Times bestseller list. This is for any parent who has ever had a hard time getting their child to bed:
All the kids from daycare are in dreamland
The froggie has made his last leap
Hell no you can’t go to the bathroom
You know where you can go? The fuck to sleep.
Samuel L. Jackson reads the audio book and you can download it at for free, or see the illustrations along with Jackson reading it here or on YouTube. Put this at the top of your gift list for any parent of young children. It will bring sweet relief. 07/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
GO THE F**K TO SLEEP by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Ricardo Cortés: Masquerading as a children’s bedtime story this picture book is definitely not for children. Actually, due to the strong language – which, noting the title, is a given – some parents may find it objectionable for their own reading. In the story, the father’s frustration mounts throughout the night as he tries everything he can think of to coax his daughter to go to sleep. This book has received a great deal of attention. However, I do not think the illustrator, Ricard Cortés, has received the credit he deserves for his part in the story. If you look closely at the illustrations you will find reassurance that the struggle is only within the mind of the father. The child is blissfully unaware of her father’s distress. Sadly, that is too often not the case in real life. I commend Mr. Cortés for providing illustrations that speak volumes. 08/11 Kimberly Bower

THE GODMOTHER by Carrie Adams: Tessa King is a thirty-ish single unemployed attorney in London. She’s out of work because her boss was sexually harassing/stalking her, so she revs up her social life and becomes friend on call for all her godchildren (“always a Godmother, never a mother”); the oldest, Caspar, is a teen in trouble. Then there’s sickly Cora, whose single mom is so hung-up on her ex she’s letting him get away without supporting them. Finally, the newest godchildren, infant twins Bobby and Tommy, whose parents have a very rocky marriage and lots of dark secrets. But Tessa’s relationships aren’t all about the kids, this is a very tight group of friends, including the parents of the aforementioned godchildren, plus fertility-challenged Claudia and Al, and Tessa’s best friend Ben and his wife, Sasha. Rather than being just another chick-lit, happy, sexy book, Adams takes a more serious look at what makes marriage and parenting and friendships work, often in a humorous way, but also in some very troubling ones. A thought-provoking yet very entertaining read. 12/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GODMOTHER: THE SECRET CINDERELLA STORY by Carolyn Turgeon: Imagine if Cinderella never made it to the ball at all? Imagine if, instead, the one person responsible for helping Cinderella meet her fate betrayed her in the worst possible way? That’s exactly what happened in this tale. Lil, Cinderella’s fairy godmother, became so entranced by the human world, and so enamored with the prince herself, that she attended the ball in Cinderella’s place and fell in love with the prince. For that she was banished from her kingdom, sent to live out her days as a human in New York City. She spends her days working in a used bookstore, taking solace in the tales from her old life, and nights dreaming about a world she can never return to. Until she meets Veronica, that is. In Veronica, Lil sees a possible chance of redemption. Maybe, if she does it right this time and fulfills her duty as a godmother, maybe she can return home. Turgeon’s lovely and sad tale is not so much a fairy tale re-told as one would expect it to be. Instead, it’s a tale that stands all on its own, heartbreaking and beautifully told. 03/09 Becky Lejeune

GODS BEHAVING BADLY by Marie Phillips: The twelve Greek gods are still alive…and are residing in a run-down townhouse in London. Their lives are quite pathetic. Artemis, the goddess of hunting is a dog walker. Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, is a phone sex operator. And Apollo, god of the sun, is a TV psychic. The gods, in their boredom, are in constant battle with one another. Aphrodite decides to pull a trick on Apollo. Using the powers of Eros, the god of love and sexual desire, she makes Apollo fall in love with an audience member during his TV show. The unknowing victim is Alice, a quiet and meek janitor for the television station. The battle between the gods escalates when Alice doesn’t reciprocate Apollo’s love. The future of humankind is in question, and it’s up to two lowly mortals to save it. GODS BEHAVING BADLY is a hysterical take on the Greek gods. It starts out quite humorous, but takes on a serious spin when love and the fate of the fate of the world comes in to play. A very quick read; you definitely won’t want to put this one down. 02/09 Jennifer Lawrence

GODS IN ALABAMA by Joshilyn Jackson: First effort leans toward chic-lit although there is a murder, maybe. Arlene Fleet thinks so anyway. Attempted 1987 date rape foiled by a tequila shot (in the bottle) to the head of the star football player has led Arlene away from her small town Alabama home forever, but events a decade later bring her, and her black boyfriend, home for a family gathering. Is she really a murderer? Why wasn’t the body ever found? Why after ten years is her old friend Rosa Mae Lolley on the case? Not really Steel Magnolias, but more of a treatise on how dysfunctional a family can be. Well written, but not my cup of tea. 04/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

GODS OF ABERDEEN By Micah Nathan: This one is so far off the beaten path of my usual pursuits that I have to issue kind of a disclaimer here. I had to read this TWICE to end up liking it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This is a book steeped in the closed world of college academia, a world I have not been around in 30 years,
but the story that’s told here has great merit. First time author Micah Nathan tells a lost youth/teen angst & ennui story to the max here. Sixteen year old Eric Dunne has been accepted as a charity case at Aberdeen College (sort of a second-tier Yale.) He skipped a grade, and he’s really confused; sexually, personally, and academically. He’s a poor boy who gets dumped amongst the sharks. But he proves his worth with his knowledge of Latin and is recruited to work on Dr. Cade’s project. He’s befriended by a collection of eccentric geniuses, mostly his best pal Art. I don’t want to blow the story here, it gets better as time goes on. Eric finds out that Art ain’t exactly a stand up guy, plus he’s fooling around with stuff that ends up getting a kid killed tragically. Whether it was murder or not is kind of left up to you to decide. One caveat to the author, don’t use so much time to set it up…hook ’em to the ribs early. A very nice first effort, and I suspect more’s to come. Recommended, even by me. 04/06 DOC

GOLD FIRE by Ed Mitchell: Third in the series (after Gold Lust and Gold Raid) this techno-thriller grabs you up front and doesn’t let go. Khalid Jafar, the son of Osama bin Laden, is proposing to end global terrorism. But he has nuclear warheads stolen from Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces. Is he sincere or is this a ploy? Will his target be Washington, Moscow or Tel Aviv, or all three? It is up to FBI agent Cholo Cantera to team with an Israeli counter-terrorism unit and find the missing weapons before it is too late. The big clock is ticking and midnight ain’t far away. A juiced Tom Clancy stay up all night read, and you won’t even need any black coffee. Go for it. 08/07 Jack Quick

THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI by Helene Wecker: It’s 1899 when Chava and Ahmad come to New York. Chava is a golem. She was created and brought to this New World as a wife for a man who unfortunately didn’t survive the voyage. But she was lucky that her husband-to-be did manage to wake her before he died. She’s lucky again when she meets a rabbi who knows exactly what she is. He takes her under his wing and names her Chava, after his own grandmother. Ahmad is a jinni who has been trapped for centuries in an old flask that has been passed down from generation to generation. The owner of the flask is completely unaware of the magic inhabitant and so the jinni’s release comes as a surprise to the tinsmith hired to fix the old thing. The jinni has no knowledge of how he came to be trapped in the flask but quickly realizes that part of his curse has left him stuck in human form. Like the golem’s rabbi, the tinsmith decides to help the jinni and takes him on as an apprentice. When the golem and the jinni finally meet, they can each see the other for what they truly are. Together, they form a bond and a friendship that will help them both in this new and foreign land. Turn of the century New York City proves to be an enchanting setting for this fairy tale wrapped immigration story. The Golem and the Jinni, their histories, and the folklore they both come from make Helene Wecker’s debut a truly remarkable and unforgettable read. 5/13 Becky Lejeune

THE GOLIATH BONE by Mickey Spillane and Max Alan Collins: Imagine Stacy Keach’s narrative voice-over and the strains of “Harlem Nocturne”. The deeply melancholy saxophone sets a gritty tone as Keach walks in wearing his wrinkled suit, fedora and trench coat. He reaches into an inner pocket and pulls out, not a rod or a stogie – but a Blackberry. A week before his death Mickey Spillane turned this, his last manuscript, over to his good friend Max Allan Collins to complete and Collins has done a marvelous job. It’s a post 9-11 world, Hammer and Velda are about to get married, Homicide Captain Pat Chambers is about to retire – but there is still one more case to be solved. Matthew Hurley and his half sister Jenna Sheffield, have made a spectacular find in the Valley of Elah: a buried thigh bone whose owner stood over ten feet tall. Could this be Goliath? Al-Qaeda, Homeland Security, the FBI, Mossad, an Israeli vigilante group and a megalomaniac theatrical impresario all think so enough to take their best shot at stealing the giant’s bone and eliminating anyone in their path. Its Mike and Velda against the entire lot, but don’t bet against them. 03/09 Jack Quick

GONE by Mo Hayder: Six months after the events of Skin, DI Jack Caffery has been called to work what seems to be a simple carjacking; simple but for the fact that the victim’s young daughter was in the backseat when the car was taken. Jack is sure that the girl will be returned safe and sound until fellow officer Flea Marley approaches him with a theory: Flea believes that this is just the latest in a string of jackings where the child is actually the target. Now the cops are looking at a kidnapper with an agenda that may prove to be the break in the case that they need, if they can figure it out. And time is running short. Each new installment in this series builds off the last. Even so, each new book can still be read completely on its own. If you follow the series, the buildup is fantastic, but if you’re a new reader, one Mo Hayder title is enough to completely hook you. Never for the fainthearted, always intense, and always excellently plotted, Mo Hayder remains one of my absolute favorites. NOTE: Gone has just been released in the UK; US release date to be determined. 02/10 Becky Lejeune

Gone for Good by Harlan Coben: TELL NO ONE made my top ten list for 2001. His new one, GONE FOR GOOD, is among the first contenders for 2002. The strong writer of the Myron Bolitar series (THE FINAL DETAIL, FADE AWAY, etc.) left Myron behind and had a breakout success with TELL NO ONE. His new novel, GONE FOR GOOD, should firmly entrench Coben in the big leagues.
Will Klein returns home to suburban New Jersey as his mother lay dying to hear, “He’s alive.” The “he” in question is Ken Klein, Will’s beloved older brother. After Will’s high school sweetheart was murdered eleven years earlier, Ken became the prime suspect, which only intensified when he disappeared amidst the suburban media frenzy. His devastated family never heard from him again, and so begins this thriller extraordinaire. Well-defined characters enrich this story that also deals with family relationships, friendship and love.
GONE FOR GOOD has “best seller” written all over it. I couldn’t help but compare it to THE SUMMONS by John Grisham. They both start out with the kid coming home after the death of a parent. After that, Grisham went nowhere but on a 200 page car ride through a school zone with money in the trunk. Harlan took me on a roller coaster ride that left me breathless until the very last page. PS: The movie version of TELL NO ONE is supposed to start filming this summer. GONE FOR GOOD is being developed into a six one-hour limited series for USA network. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn: Nick and Amy met, fell in love, and got married. They lived happily ever after in New York City, until they were both laid off. Then Nick’s mother got sick and they moved to Missouri to help Nick’s twin sister care for her. Now, Nick and Amy are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. Tradition holds that Amy will prepare one of her famous treasure hunts and Nick will have to decipher clues that will take him to his gift at the end. They’ll have dinner and they’ll embark on another year of marriage. But that’s not what happens. Nick gets a call at work: his front door is wide open. When Nick arrives, the house is a shambles and Amy is nowhere to be found. Amy has gone missing and Nick soon finds himself the prime suspect. Anyone familiar with Gillian Flynn’s books knows that things are never what they seem at the outset. Reading Flynn’s work is an experience unlike any other. The twists and turns are unpredictable and dark as can be and Gone Girl is no exception. Another excellent outing for Flynn. 6/12 Becky Lejeune

GONE MISSING by Linda Castillo: Police chief Kate Burkholder (Breaking Silence) returns in this gripping tale of Amish Rumspringa, the time given to teens to sow their wild oats before committing to a religious life as one of the Plain People. Burkholder’s Amish upbringing gives her some insight into how to deal with the Amish when several of their teenagers go missing. Her investigation is complicated when a body is found because the Amish do not allow photographs or have phones. The only bright spot is that Burkholder gets to work with state agent John Tomasetti again, and their relationship deepens. When Kate’s favorite niece vanishes as well, the case becomes personal, and the unsettling ending leaves the door open for more books in the series. Verdict: This fast-paced thrill ride through the always fascinating Amish country of Ohio should appeal to readers of Karin Slaughter, Betty Webb, and Lisa Jackson. Devotees of this series won’t want to miss it, and this entry should gain Castillo new fans as well. [For more Amish suspense, Julie Kramer’s Shunning Sarah publishes this August—Ed.] 6/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.

GONE ‘TIL NOVEMBER by Wallace Stroby: Stroby’s first two books featured ex New Jersey State Policeman Harry Rane. For this, his third book, he divides the action between New Jersey and Florida’s St. Charles County, when Sara Cross is the lone woman sheriff’s deputy. Cross is a single mother with a six year old son afflicted by leukemia. She ends up in a violent showdown with a New Jersey contract killer who, himself, is suffering from a rare form of cancer. It all starts when fellow deputy Bill Flynn, with whom Sara had a post-divorce fling, shoots a 22-year-old black man from New Jersey allegedly fleeing a traffic stop. Hopefully this will be the start of a new series for Stroby who nails his characters in every outing and hopefully will provide us with many more. 03/10 Jack Quick

GONE TO THE DOGS by Mary Guterson: Rena is a depressed, disorganized mess. Her boyfriend of seven years, the outdoorsy sportsman Brian, has dumped her to move in with a blond Amazon goddess, her apartment is a mess, and she’s waiting tables despite a degree in speech therapy because she didn’t like it and doesn’t know what else to do. On a crazy impulse, she steals Brian’s girlfriend’s dog, names him Big Guy and sneaks him past the No Dogs Allowed sign on the front door of her building. It doesn’t help her depression much, but dinner at her Orthodox sister’s house does. Her mother has a new boyfriend, and her brother-in-law brings home Chaim to meet Rena. Turns out Chaim is really Chuck, which suits her much better, and thus begins a tepid friendship. The story just meanders along until its unlikely conclusion, with few laughs along the way. Jewish chick lit should be better than this. Rena was the only character that was fully realized, which was frustrating because I would have liked to know these people better. 8/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch
GONE TOMORROW by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back in the 13th entry in the series, and Child continues to prove that a series can grow and get better. Reacher is riding the New York City subway at 2:00 a.m. The car isn’t crowded, there are just five people at that hour but one of them, a young woman, has Reacher on alert. Many years earlier, Israeli intelligence had come up with a list of twelve signs that inevitably proved a person was a suicide bomber. After 9/11, that list became part of police training all over the world and was studied by all law enforcement. Reacher notices this woman is exhibiting all twelve signs. He manages to avoid the catastrophe he envisioned, but as he starts working with a local cop to try and figure out what was going on, the FBI gets involved as does a politician running for senator, and two women from Afghanistan. Reacher is on the move between NY and Washington DC, looking for answers but he’s being lied to. His life is in danger and he’s not sure if it’s because of what he knows or what he’s about to find out. This tightly plotted thriller is as thought provoking as it is exciting. Fans of the series will love it, and newcomers impressed and intrigued enough with this larger-than-life character to go back and read the rest of the series. 05/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GONE TOMORROW by Lee Child: “Suicide bombers are easy to spot. They give out all kinds of tell-tale signs. Mostly because they are nervous. By definition, they’re all first-timers.” New York City. It starts at two in the morning in a New York City subway car heading uptown. Six people, one of them Jack Reacher, four innocents and Susan Mark, whose lonely heart, estranged son, and big secret create a big hole. Reacher must find out how big and deep that hole is. How many places – Washington, California, Afghanistan – how many lives from a US Senate candidate to a beautiful young woman with an unbelievable story and many others along the way. Yes, Reacher can handle the truth – if he can only find it. Like riding a roller coaster in the dark – until lights finally come on – but only at the end of the ride. Possibly the best Reacher yet. 06/09 Jack Quick

GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN by Michael Lee West: Southern charm and some crazy characters make this mystery a lot of fun. Teeny Templeton is engaged to Bing Jackson and sharing his home; that is, until the day her wedding cake decorating class is canceled, and she comes home to find two naked women playing badminton with her betrothed. After climbing a peach tree and pelting them all with underripe fruit, Teeny ends up in jail. But that’s just the beginning – Bing ends up murdered and Teeny is the immediate suspect. She hooks up with a lawyer who also happens to be her first love, and the plot thickens, replete with recipes. Despite the cast of zany characters, or maybe because of them, I couldn’t put the book down. 05/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien: It’s been called the definitive novel of the Vietnam War and deservedly so. The truth about that war is eloquently expressed in a story that dissolves into hallucination. Where one begins and the other ends gives the reader something to think about. A totally engrossing, thought provoking read.

A GOOD AND HAPPY CHILD by Justin Evans: Fatherhood has not bought George Davies any sense of happiness. In fact, he finds himself terrified of being alone with his new son. George will not touch, change, or otherwise care for the child in any way. His strange behavior prompts him to begin seeing a therapist where he begins to recount certain events of his own childhood and his previous experience with therapy. At the age of 11, George Davies is an outcast amongst his peers. His is highly intelligent but also very awkward. Things seem to get worse for George after his father dies on a mission trip in Honduras. George does manage to make a new friend – a friend that only he can see, a friend who promises to tell him all sorts of secrets. Then George’s new friends turns on him and people around him begin to suffer strange accidents. Could George’s invisible friend really be some sort of demonic presence or is George suffering from some sort of delusion or dementia? His own father claimed to have visions himself but was never violent. Is there any merit to George’s fear of his child? The question of psychological versus demonic causes for all the trouble that George experiences is fascinating and guaranteed to draw readers in from the very first page. Evans’s engaging debut is definitely one that sticks with you long after you put it down. 06/07 Becky Lejeune

THE GOOD COP by Brad Parks: Carter Ross returns in this fourth outing about the New Jersey newspaper reporter with a strong sense of justice, a passion for journalism, and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Ross is woken early one morning to a phone call from his boss, ordering him to follow up on a cop killing. He decides to visit the widow and learns a lot about the victim, none of which makes sense when he is later told the cop took his own life. The widow is adamant that her husband was murdered, but when her preacher pulls his support from the investigation, Ross knows something is up. He keeps digging, despite being shot at, while his current flame and previous girlfriend complicate his life further. Meanwhile there is another storyline involving gun smuggling that starts intersecting with the cop killing, making for a thoughtful look at gun laws in New Jersey that, in light of the Shady Hook massacre, becomes even more compelling and disturbing. This is a tautly written page turner with charm and humor, a terrific combination and sure to appeal to David Rosenfelt and Janet Evanovich fans. 3/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

THE GOOD LIAR by Laura Caldwell: Kate has been separated from her husband for ten months when her best friend Liza decides enough is enough. She sets Kate up with an older man, an acquaintance of hers, named Michael Waller. Michael and Kate really hit it off and are married four months later in spite of the fact that Liza thinks things are moving a little too fast. See, Liza knows more about Michael than Kate ever will. That’s because Liza and Michael work together for a group called The Trust. The Trust, set up by Liza’s father, is a secret organization whose job is to protect American interests. Kate was never meant to know about The Trust, but she soon learns that Michael has been keeping secrets. She could never imagine that her best friend has been keeping them as well. Then Liza’s lover is killed in a plane crash, and she begins to suspect that Michael may have been involved. Could Michael have gone rogue and has Liza inadvertently put her best friend in the line of fire? As their web of lies continues to grow, everyone becomes suspect and no one knows who can be trusted. The Good Liar is a puzzle that Caldwell seems to have put together with ease. As each piece is revealed, the plot becomes more intricate and involved. A definite up-all-nighter and a must read for any thriller fan. 01/08 Becky Lejeune

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner: America’s answer to Bridget Jones and Jemima J, all rolled up into one funny, heartwarming feel-good novel. A great beach read, light and entertaining, a real page turner. The characters are well defined and believable, even in their eccentricities, which is not always easy to do. This is not great literature, but it doesn’t aspire to be. It is a “chick book”, and a good one.

THE GOOD OLD BOYS by Paul Hemphill: Growing up in the South. In 1974, Atlanta Journal newspaper columnist Paul Hemphill captured the essence of the experience with chapters in this book like “Praise the Lord and pass the Ball to Fuqua,” “God Bless Lester, He Means Well”, and “Welcome to the Death Hilton”. These are the best of the best of Hemphill’s daily columns expanded and combined to provide a vivid word picture of country music, stock car racing, moonshine, hard living and high-power preaching. If you were there this will bring back memories, if not, open a door to an era that is gone forever. Dated, but still a great read. 09/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

GOOD PEOPLE by Marcus Sakey: Sakey pushes into Harlan Coben territory with this thriller about an ordinary family finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Tom and Anna Reed have exhausted their life savings and their credit line on infertility treatments in hopes of having a baby. They own a two family house and rent out the downstairs to a man who pays his rent on time every month, even though he appears to be a bit of a hermit. One night the smoke alarm goes off in his apartment, and when it doesn’t stop, Tom and Anna go down to investigate. There’s a grease fire on the stove, and no sign of their tenant. Anna grabs a container of flour and dumps it on the fire, putting it out. But then she notices what appears to be cash hidden in the flour. The next thing you know, they find $400,000 in cash hidden in the cabinets and one very dead tenant from an overdose of pain meds. No relatives claim the body, he has no friends that they’ve ever seen, so what to do with the money? The obvious. Except that their tenant wasn’t quite the hermit they thought he was; he stole that money from some very bad men who have been looking for him and want it back, at any cost. Tom and Anna find themselves in way over their heads in this nail-biting, action packed thriller that in Sakey’s very capable, very smart hands, leads to a solution that is not quite as simple as you would think. One of the best thrillers of the year. 8/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GOOD PEOPLE by Marcus Sakey: All Tom and Anna Reed ever wanted was a family and the financial means to enjoy it. Unable to have children and barely hanging on financially when their downstairs tenant—a recluse whose promptly delivered cashier’s checks were barely keeping them afloat—dies in his sleep. Then, they find $400,000 stashed in his kitchen. A fairy tale ending. Not so fast. It seems their tenant wasn’t a hermit who squirreled away his pennies. He was a criminal who double-crossed some of the most dangerous men in Chicago. – men who won’t stop until they get revenge, no matter where they find it. Free money can be terribly expensive. 8/12 Jack Quick

THE GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE TO AMSTERDAM by Chris Ewan: They say that an author should write what he knows. Charlie Howard certainly does. He is a full-time author and part-time thief whose main character is a mystery-solving burglar named Faulks. While working on his latest novel in Amsterdam, Charlie is contacted by an American who wants him to steal two seemingly worthless monkey figurines. The figurines complete the see no, hear no, speak no evil trio and the American already has the third in his possession. Charlie refuses the job at first, there’s not enough preparation time and he’s uncomfortable with the fact that he has no idea how this person got his name in the first place. Charlie is also a bit confused as to why the man would be willing to shell out such big bucks for two plaster monkeys of no value. His curiosity eventually gets the best of him and Charlie does, in fact, carry out the job. When he gets to the meeting point though, the American is gone. The American is found, beaten into a coma, and Charlie is the number one suspect. No surprise, but the third monkey is now missing. Charlie must figure out just what is going on before he ends up spending the rest of his days in a Scandinavian prison. This is a fun play on the traditional who-done-it and is a bit reminiscent of Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. Ewan’s debut was the second annual winner of the Long Barn Books First Novel Contest. Long Barn is a small British house that publishes one novel each year. It’s easy to see why this appealing novel was their winning choice. 11/07 Becky Lejeune

THE GOODBYE COUSINS by Maggie Leffler: Di Linzer has not returned to the states for many years. In fact, the last time she was stateside was when her own mother kidnapped her as a young girl. Fearing a wicked custody battle, Di’s mother whisked her off to Europe, moving every so often just to keep the trail cold. Now, Di’s mother has died and Di has her own son to deal with. She has finally decided to return home, but it’s too late for a reconciliation with her father. Di’s remaining connection is her soon-to-be-married reporter cousin, Alecia, a woman dealing with her own issues. Readers are taken on a sweet and touching ride as both women really begin to discover who they are as individuals and where they want their lives to be. And both will learn, that even with all the dysfunctions and issues, family is what keeps everything in their lives together. Leffler’s story is one about families and how wonderful they really can be if you let them. 07/09 Becky Lejeune

GOODNIGHT NOBODY by Jennifer Weiner: Weiner has taken us from single gal pal/chick lit (Good in Bed, In Her Shoes) to married life and becoming a mom (Little Earthquakes) to Goodnight Nobody, the housewife life in ritzy suburbia. Kate Klein is married with children and bored, bored, bored. She also doesn’t understand why she is bored when all the other mommies seem quite engrossed with potty training, play dates and organic snacks. When she finds one of her neighbors dead on the kitchen floor, Kate decides to do a little investigating of her own. She has her best gal pal Janie Siegel, heiress to the Seigel carpet fortune, helping her out while she sneaks around trying to solve the murder. Chapters flow back and forth between Kate’s background story and the investigation but all the chapters have wonderful characters, lots of laughs and as always with Jennifer Weiner, lots of heart. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART by Teresa Medeiros: Author Abby Donovan became a literary darling overnight when her book was picked by Oprah for her book club. Since then, Abby has been fighting an extended bout of writer’s block. Then her agent suggests starting a Twitter account for publicity purposes. When Abby “meets” Mark Baynard, she finds herself looking forward to their daily exchanges. But as she begins to think she might be falling for him, she has to wonder how well she’s really getting to know him via their little chats. Medeiros’s latest, told mostly in back and forth tweets, makes for quick and light reading. No doubt fans will enjoy this contemporary release from the romance author, as will readers new to her list. 12/10 Becky Lejeune

GOSSIP by Beth Gutcheon: Idle gossip becomes a sticky mess with serious consequences in this latest from Gutcheon. Loviah “Lovie” French attended Miss Pratt’s boarding school in the 60s. There she met Avis Binney and Dinah Kittredge. She and Dinah would remain fast friends even as they graduate, move to New York, and begin their careers – Lovie in the fashion industry and Dinah as a columnist. When Lovie reconnects with Avis as an adult, she comes to count her as another of her closest friends as well. But Dinah never meshes with Avis, even when her youngest son marries Avis’s daughter. None of them could be more pleased with the match though; that is until some unsavory rumors begin to spread through the Big Apple. Lovie soon finds herself stuck in the middle but even she couldn’t predict how things would turn out. This is my first read by Gutcheon and I don’t know how I’ve missed her this long. Her writing is phenomenal – elegant and lyrical – and I quickly became attached to the characters. I didn’t expect the book to take such a dark turn, but it made Gossip that much more of a stand out. 3/13 Becky Lejeune

GOTCHA! by Christie Craig: In Christie Craig’s latest romantic mystery, Houston girl Macy Tucker has had it with men: All they bring is disappointment. So now it’s time to swear them off and make her own plans for the future, plans that certainly don’t include a new love interest. When her little brother inadvertently lands his whole family in trouble, and escapes jail trying to protect them, Detective Jake Baldwin is forced to get involved. Something about Macy really turns him on and all he can think about is keeping her safe from trouble. And as hard as headstrong Macy tries to resist Baldwin’s charms, she has to admit that he’s getting under her skin. But now’s not the time for romance. Not with her brother on the run from the law and a crazy psychopath stalking Macy. Just goes to show that the best-laid plans sometime fail. Before long, bullets are speeding past, a couple of hospital visits are involved, and Macy is head over heels for a guy she is sure is completely wrong for her. Gotcha. makes for great forget-all-your-worries reading. It’s funny and really hooks you from the very beginning. A fun way to kick off summer. 06/09 Becky Lejeune

GRAND CAYMAN SLAM by Randy Wayne White: Captain Wes O’Davis has been having a fling with the nanny hired to mind the son of Sir Conan James and Lady James, British aristocracy with powerful connections. When the boy is kidnapped and the nanny’s body is found in Davis’ Grand Cayman cottage, it got a bit dicey. But O’Davis had a food reputation and a solid alibi, so he enlists friend Dusty MacMorgan, ex-Seal and now charter boat captain to work with him to find the kidnappers, rescue the boy, and avenge the young lady who had come from England to Caymans only to die. Not world class literature but a good action yarn. 06/09 Jack Quick

THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY by Joe Moore and Lynn Sholes: It would be easy enough to dismiss this as another entry in the DaVinci Code genre, but it is nicely written and tightly edited, if a bit far fetched at times. Television journalist Cotten Stone accidentally stumbles upon an archeological dig while escaping Iraq that uncovers the world’s most-sought-after religious relic: the Holy Grail. Stone smuggles the wooden box back to New York not sure what is in it. She looks up a priest/professor on the Internet who has a book telling how to open the box, which does contain a chalice. People around her start dying while others give her messages in a secret language shared with her long dead twin sister. She and the priest then go, not to Paris, but to New Orleans during Mardi Gras to “save the world.” If you can accept the string of coincidences, not a bad read at all. 11/05 ~This review contributed by Jack Quick.

GRAVE DESCEND by John Lange: Hard Case Crime Reprint #26 of the 1970 Edgar nominated story of the sinking of the yacht Grave Descend. McGregor is hired to dive the wreck and see if the boat is salvageable. Before the dive there is one problem – each person he talks to has a different story – the insurance adjuster who is the owner’s brother, the chorus line dancer whose presence the owner wants kept hidden, the vessel’s captain – why are none of the stories adding up? Why did the boat sink, why is its position so precisely known, what is to be gained by delaying the news of its sinking twenty-four hours, why has no one already been inquiring, and lastly what is on the boat that is so valuable? McGregor needs to get answers and survive. Well-written, fast read. 11/06 Jack Quick

Grave Endings by Rochelle Krich: I was really looking forward to this book because I really enjoyed the first two in the series, so I hate to admit I was disappointed with her latest. The popular Molly Blume series returns with this well written whodunit that somehow falls flat. As mentioned in Blues in the Night (2002) and Dream House (2003), Molly’s best friend Aggie Lasher had been murdered six years earlier but the case was never solved. Two weeks before her wedding day, Molly is asked to identify a necklace that contains the symbolic red thread of celebrity-hot Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) which she had given to Aggie. It’s turned up in the personal effects of a dead drug dealer, leading the cops to finally close the case, but Molly isn’t so sure they’ve got their man and becomes obsessed with finding the truth. Everyone becomes suspect, the cops aren’t as forthcoming as she’d like, the murdered girl’s family and old co-workers tell conflicting and confusing stories, as do the drug dealer’s friends and relatives. Molly eventually ferrets out the facts, has a few close calls, and marries her fiancé, but gone are any hints of romance or those warm and funny moments we’ve come to expect from the Blume family, making the book feel very one dimensional and ultimately unsatisfying. Recommended for larger fiction collections. Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

GRAVE IMPORTS by Eric Stone: Interesting second entry into an apparent series. Ray Sharp, former journalist and now business investigator in Hong Kong becomes involved in the sordid but lucrative trade in stolen Cambodian art. The action leads back from Hong Kong into the Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, through Thailand; and finally into the killing fields of Cambodia. Well conceived, but suffers from the tendency of the author to provide “dumps” of information, which while interesting, get to be overwhelming. Also, the reader is somewhat adrift if they have not read the preceding book because of the references back to that outing. The above notwithstanding, the characters are interesting, the action flows, and the locales are exotic. Lets hope number three is even better. 09/07 Jack Quick

GRAVE WEB by Betty Sullivan LaPierre: The death of her father, with whom she lived, causes Becky Simpson to want to re-open the issue of her missing mother, who left the family without explanation years earlier. When she opens the safe in her father’s office, she finds letters from her mother and a box containing her mother’s wedding ring, along with a note that blames her father’s affair for her leaving. She then hires “Hawkman”, Tom Casey, P I, to track down her mother. The ensuing adventure reminds me of the Rolling Stones tune “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.’ Answers are uncovered, but at a price. Labeled number 10 in the series, I found this overall to be a light weight, breezy read, but probably would not bother working through the Hawkman backlist. 11/07 Jack Quick

THE GRAVING DOCK by Gabriel Cohen: In his second outing, Detective Jack Leightner is dealing with the corpse of a small boy whose body floats off a Red Hook pier in a small coffin. The box was made without nails and the body was treated carefully. But by whom? Its wintertime and Jack is back in his old neighborhood. The case is just what he needs to take his mind off his personal problems. Another good police procedural and a haunting portrait of a world that has irrevocably changed. Recommended. 01/08 Jack Quick

GRAVEMINDER by Melissa Marr: It’s Maylene’s job to mind the dead. The town of Claysville has a contract and there is always a graveminder and an undertaker. They work as a team, and as long as they do their jobs, all is right in their town. But then Maylene is murdered. Rebekkah is Maylene’s granddaughter by marriage only, but she is the one Maylene has chosen to inherit the job. And it is Rebekkah who will have to find out who killed Maylene and set the balance right again. Though this is Marr’s first in the new adult series, readers were initially introduced to the world in “Two Lines,” a novella released in the collection Unbound. With it’s completely original concept and fantastic execution, I have no doubt that Marr’s newest will please her fans and thrill new readers as well. 05/11 Becky Lejeune

GREASING THE PINATA by Tim Maleeny: San Francisco reporter-turned-PI Cape Weathers is at Puerto Vallarte Mexico, looking for the son of a California state senator. Both the son and his father have become gator bait – literally. In spite of this development, Weather’s client, the senator’s daughter, wants him to continue to pursue the matter. This is fine with Weathers who has his own score to settle. With the help of Sally Mei, they pursue the action from Mexican drug cartel to the San Francisco mob as well as the city’s boardrooms. With each outing Maleeny gets better, and his main characters, Weathers, Sally Mei and the Sloth, are all unique. Looking forward to number four. 02/09 Jack Quick

THE GREAT ESCAPE by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: We last met Lucy Jorik in Call Me Irresistible, when she left the perfect man at the altar. This book picks up with Lucy hopping on the back of a motorcycle ridden by a gruff looking biker and riding off into an adventure. Lucy is the daughter of a former U.S. President and has lived most of her life in a political fish bowl. Walking out on her own wedding leaves her feeling rebellious and she doesn’t want to go home to her family, at least not yet. The biker with the unlikely nickname “Panda” was at the rehearsal dinner and Lucy assumes he is a friend of her jilted fiancé, but not close enough to care that he is helping the bride escape. They take off on an adventure which culminates when she finds out who he really is and he leaves her at the airport. But Lucy still doesn’t feel like going home so she heads to Panda’s house and falls in love with the place. Lucy decides to reinvent herself, disguising her usual conservative hair and dress under Goth makeup and slutty clothes. When Panda returns home with an overweight TV diet guru in tow, the sparks and the laughs really start to fly and things heat up to a feverish pitch. Another winner from my favorite romance writer. 8/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

GREEN LIGHT FOR MURDER by Heywood Gould: Director Jay Braffner is making a movie about killing all the people in Hollywood that he thinks stole his ideas and ruined his career. Unfortunately, the movie is all in his mind but the victims are all too real. Detective Tommy Veasy works for the La Playita Police Department, a fictional Los Angeles suburb. Veasy is not your typical cop; he smokes pot and deals with the stress of the job by spouting poetry on a regular basis. First a television producer is found dead in his home after it is tented for termites, then another producer turns up dead by accidentally drinking too much, falling and hitting his head. Veasy doesn’t believe in coincidence; he thinks every accidental death is murder until proven otherwise. He goes looking for the common denominator amongst all the dead producers, despite the lack of cooperation from the department. Interesting characters abound, and the writing style is unique, almost script style but reined in enough to call it a novel with lots of dialogue. This is the blackest of screwball comedies; Gould gives new meaning to the idea of “Hollywood backstabbing.” 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission

GREEN-EYED DEMON by Jaye Wells: Jaye Wells’ second Sabina Kane book ended with the half-vampire/half-mage’s sister, Maisie, kidnapped by vampires. Now, in this third of the series, Sabina, Giguhl, and Adam have come up with a way to get her back. The group is sent to New Orleans with the support of the Seelie court, under one condition: their first and only priority is to kill Lavinia, the vampire Domina. If they can save Maisie in the process, so be it. But Sabina’s never been good at following orders and though it would mean angering Queen Maeve, she and her friends are determined not to leave the Big Easy without Maisie. Unfortunately, it looks as though the vampires have gained a powerful ally in the coming war. The Caste of Nod bends all the known rules about the Dark Races and with Halloween coming soon Sabina knows that they are quickly running out of time. Fans of the series will not be disappointed. Crazy action, dirty humor, and New Orleans—what more could you ask for in an urban fantasy setting? 03/11 Becky Lejeune

GRIFTER’S GAME by Lawrence Block: Joe Marlin is a con man accustomed to scoring easy cash off gullible women. In order to check into an Atlantic City hotel without undue suspicion, he scores some expensive good looking leather luggage at the railroad station. The first surprise is finding a fortune in raw heroin in one of the bags. The second surprise is Mona Brassard, a married bombshell for whom he falls like a ton of bricks. Then the ultimate surprise – the stolen heroin belongs to her husband. You can always count on Block to portray interesting characters in unusual plots, and this is one of his best. 3/12 Jack Quick

A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY by Joshilyn Jackson: Jackson (Backseat Saints) has written an unusual Southern family saga revolving around three generations of lonely, hardscrabble Slocumb women. Grandmother Ginny is the glue that holds them together when her ex-drug addict daughter, Liza, has a severe stroke, leaving her voiceless except for a few vowel sounds. Fifteen-year-old granddaughter Mosey is the same age her mother and grandmother were when they had their daughters, but Mosey isn’t like her forebears; she’s scarcely been kissed by a boy. When Ginny decides to pull out the old willow tree in the backyard to make room for a pool to use in rehabilitating Liza, a shallow grave is uncovered, revealing a small skeleton dressed in tattered baby clothes and unleashing a series of events for which Liza seems to have an explanation—but she can’t tell. The story is told in the alternating voices of the women as the mystery unfolds. VERDICT: Liza, as the unreliable narrator, is used to perfection in this warm family story that teeters between emotional highs and lows, laughter and tears. Book groups will eat this up. 2/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE GUARDIANS by Andrew Pyper: For kids in the small Canadian town of Grimshaw, the old Thurman house has always had a menacing air about it. Empty for decades, it’s the neighborhood’s haunted house and Ben McAuliffe lives right across the street. Ben and his friends, Carl, Randy, and Trevor, saw horrible things happen in that house. Ben never left Grimshaw. In fact, he made it his duty to keep an eye on the Thurman place, and now Ben is dead. Trevor and Randy return to Grimshaw to say their final goodbyes, but it’s not so simple. A girl has gone missing and the event stirs up memories they buried long ago. Something in the Thurman house has awakened. Something wants out. Pyper’s haunted house horror has just the right amount of creepiness to it—great build in atmosphere and tension and an ending that lives up to the resulting expectation. 10/11 Becky Lejeune

GUILT BY ASSOCIATION by Marcia Clark: Interesting debut from one of the nation’s better known former prosecutors. Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city’s most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family. But she can’t stop herself from digging deeper into Jake’s death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation–and her life–to find the truth. Following somewhat in the footsteps of Robert Tannenbaum and other authors of “District Attorney Procedurals,” this one reads reasonably well. Interesting cop character who reminds me of John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport. Recommended and looking forward to a sequel. 05/11 Jack Quick

GUILT BY DEGREES by Marcia Clark: Clark brings back Los Angeles DA Rachel Knight in this sequel to her well-received debut, Guilt by Association. This new book opens with a gruesome murder of a cop followed by the street killing of a homeless man. Knight is soon following a treacherous path to find the killer, dodging department politics along the way. We learn more about Knight’s disturbing childhood and her love life, as her gal pals—a fellow district attorney and a badass cop—share their work and their lives, bringing additional depth to the tale. But it is the antagonist, a psychopath with a brutal backstory and nerves of steel, who dominates the show. VERDICT Well-developed characters and a story arc that leaves the reader hanging are a surefire way to bring fans back for the next installment, and Clark has wisely left that door wide open. Should appeal to fans of Lisa Scottoline and David Baldacci. 4/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2012 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE GUILTY by Jason Pinter: Pinter’s second outing with character Henry Parker is a great read. Parker, easing back into his roll as a junior reporter after the incidents in last summer’s The Mark, is assigned to the high profile killing of pop superstar Athena Paradis. Paradis was gunned down in the wee hours of the morning while exiting a New York City nightclub. The killer uses a very distinct weapon and leaves behind a note, strangely enough, quoting Parker himself. The following day, a cop is killed by what seems to be the same weapon – the killer was aiming for the mayor this time. Two more high profile murders follow and Parker is the only one to make a startling connection regarding the killer’s weapon of choice. It seems that the killer is using a Winchester 1873, the gun that won the West. Even more startling, the specific gun the killer appears to be using is said to have belonged to notorious criminal Billy the Kid. Parker’s discoveries lead him straight into the killer’s cross hairs and he soon finds that his own loved ones have become the primary targets. Can Henry uncover the killer’s twisted motive and reveal his true identity before he loses everyone he loves? The Guilty is an explosive thriller with a fascinating plot and an unforgiving pace. With just two books under his belt, young Pinter has already proven himself to be a truly overwhelming new talent in the industry. 03/08 Becky Lejeune

GUILTY AS SIN by Joseph Teller: Jaywalker, Teller’s unorthodox but highly successful defense lawyer is back. His client is a career criminal named Alonzo Barnett, in and out of prison since age fifteen, who is up on charges related to a drug deal. Up against a team of prosecutors—one a talented, ethical newcomer, the other a sleazy, tightfisted veteran—Jaywalker has almost nothing on his side, except his unshakable belief in his client. Oh, also a near perfect record of keeping innocent clients out of the slammer. And in some cases, such as that of Barnett, Jaywalker wins even though the client is guilty as sin. The only reason Jaywalker took this case was a major tuition payment was due and he needed the money. Little did he know where it would end. 06/11 Jack Quick

THE GUILTY ONE by Lisa Ballantyne: An eight-year-old boy has been murdered and his eleven-year-old playmate stands accused. Sadly, though only eleven, British law allows the boy – Sebastian Croll – to be tried as an adult. Daniel Hunter has made a career out of defending minors. The case is already attracting a lot of attention and the hearing is sure to be both emotional and controversial. Sebastian is an odd child: he’s clever but a bit awkward and small for his age. In him, Daniel sees something of himself. As a child, Daniel was shifted from foster home to foster home while his mother spiraled further into a drug-induced haze. Had he not met and been adopted by Minnie Flynn he would never have become what he is today. But Daniel had a falling out with his adoptive mother and hasn’t talked to her for years. Unfortunately, just as the case begins, Daniel receives news that Minnie has died. With the pressures of the trial looming, Daniel is forced to face his past and reconcile his feelings towards Minnie. Lisa Ballantyne’s debut is gripping, to say the least. The story shuttles back and forth between the present and the past, leaving the true revelation about Minnie and Sebastian until the very end. I enjoyed everything about the book: the pacing, the build and intensity of the suspense, and the characters. This is a debut that will likely appeal to a wide range of readers including fans of Laura Lippman and Jodi Piccoult. 4/13 Becky Lejeune

GUN MACHINE by Warren Ellis: A very well written tale about the minds of two men facing each other mentally. One is a a police detective, John Tallow, a loner and single minded individual bent on results in his cases without regard to any toes stepped on. The other is a super serial killer that has been killing in New York’s Manhattan borough for 20 years with the probability that more than 200 people have been his victims. John Tallow with his partner investigate a man rampaging in a Manhattan tenement firing off a gun. John’s partner is killed and after John kills that man he breaks into an apartment on the floor the incident took place on. A huge gun collection is found mounted on the walls of the apartment and investigation reveals that many were used in homicides over a long period of time. The depiction of the investigation and hunt for the killer brings up well described scenes from the past in Manhattan. These descriptions by themselves make the novel well worth the read. The killer, termed the Hunter in the book is, of course, a psychopath and is found to be allied with three very prominent individuals in New York in his lengthy crime spree. The entrance into the minds of both the policeman and the killer is a well sketched out part of an engrossing book and makes the read quite different than any other detective novel. The climax is riveting and logical in the context of the book and causes a remarkable book to end…remarkably. 1/13 Paul Lane
GUN WORK by David J. Schow: When the Mexican kidnapping cartel took Carl Ledbetter’s wife, they though he was just another rich American tourist. What they didn’t know was that before Carl had made his fortune, he was a journalist with a camera who had been to Iraq and had saved the life of one Barney. Barney is not a journalist and he doesn’t carry a camera. Barney is a shooter and he carries a gun. As the San Francisco Chronicle said, it’s “take no prisoners fiction that rarely pulls away from the grisly heart of the matter.” Nicely done and recommended. Number 49 from Hardcase Crime. 10/08 Jack Quick

GUT INSTINCT by Brad Taylor: A short story in which Brad Taylor showcases Jennifer Cahill, Pike Logan’s business partner in the company they run, in order to front their Taskforce operations. Jennifer is a member of the team and providing some love interest for Pike as the series develops. The story begins with a meeting between Jennifer and her ex-husband in her business office. She suffered years of physical abuse at his hands including the lose of a baby she was carrying before dumping him. Pike walks into the meeting and instead of beating up the ex he closes the door and tells Jennifer to use her training against the man. A feel good segment to open the remainder of the story. Pike is recovering from wounds received in the Taskforce’s last action when another team asks for Jennifer’s help in stopping a terrorist in the Far East. Jennifer agrees and gets Pike to come along as backup and advisor. Jennifer accomplishes her mission which involves spying on two women that are thought to be links to the terrorist but does not think that the two ladies are involved in the plot. Her advice is looked down on by the other Taskforce team, but Jennifer prevails and all ends well with her feeling good about herself. This is a short story, to be read in a short time and will not provide the depth of one of Taylor’s full length novels about Pike and Jennifer, but is a good interlude for a reader of the series. The story also includes an introduction to Brad Taylor’s next book, The Widow’s Strike, due out shortly. 6/13 Paul Lane

THE GUTTER AND THE GRAVE by Ed McBain: First published as I’m Cannon—For Hire by “Curt Cannon” in 1958, this updated Number 15 from Hardcase Crime shows the breadth of McBain’s ability and his noir skills at their best. Former PI Matt Cordell has fallen hard and become a bum in New York City’s Bowery district after being betrayed by a dame. His decision to help old friend Johnny Bridges, a tailor, investigate petty larceny at his store soon leads to a series of murders and steamy encounters with lies piling up faster than tokens in a subway station. You may not like Cordell but you have to pull for him to succeed, knowing he is the best and worst of all of us. An oldie but a goodie from one of the masters. 05/07 Jack Quick

Fiction Reviews J: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

JACK OF SPIES by David Downing: A very well researched spy novel set in the period just prior to the beginning of hostilities of World War I, 1913-14. Downing has several books to his credit featuring John Russell, a spy working during World War II. Jack of Spies is undoubtedly the first book of a series to be set during the first World War and sets the stage very well. Jack McColl, is introduced working as a car salesman traveling through the world with his brother and another man selling luxury autos to interested buyers. Jack’s background includes combat in the British army during the second Boer war in South Africa 1899-1902. His memories show that war is not the glamorous adventure that many picture it as, and he obtains a job with the British navy as a spy for them possibly to help prevent the conflict brewing in Europe in 1913. Spying is in its infancy in terms of organization and planning and Jack is operating on a low budget with contact directly with the head of the division, and very little help from him. The first stop in his itinerary is Hong Kong and than Shanghai. It is in this segment that he finds that spying is not just some casual hob knobbing with Germans in these areas but a deadly business where his life is threatened. He also meets a beautiful Irish woman who is also traveling attempting to launch a career in journalism. Her brother and family are connected with the Irish Republican army bent on obtaining political freedom from English rule by any means including violence. Jack’s work as a British spy is complicated by the need to keep this a secret from the girl with whom he is falling in love. Downing places Jack in trouble spots during the period including a trip to Mexico when the future combatants are attempting to convince the Mexicans to side with them when war breaks out. There is a good description of the Mexican revolution going on and such principal characters as Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata and Victoriano Huerta taking part in the conflict. David Downing obviously did the necessary research to describe the period involved and his ability to bring his characters to life cements the read as a fascinating one. The ending is a logical one for this book, and sets the stage for the next one in the series which should take place with the war going on. 9/13 Paul Lane
Jacqueline Susann’s Shadow of the Dolls by Rae Lawrence: I read this the other night, and quite frankly wasn’t expecting much. This is the sequel to the mega-bestseller Valley of the Dolls, which I read repeatedly throughout high school (okay, so my age is showing!) I had fears of a repeat of the shudderingly awful sequel to Gone With the Wind, Scarlett, but I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It was probably helpful that I hadn’t reread Valley of the Dolls, or I probably would have been pissed off by the whole thing. Jacqueline Susann died many years ago, leaving behind at least an outline of what was to follow. Rae Lawrence picked it up and ran with it, moving the story forward a couple of decades and retaining the flavor of the book. It is as good as this sort of thing ever gets; entertaining, engrossing and effervescent, as light and fleeting as cotton candy on the tongue.

JADE LADY BURNING by Martin Limon: Army investigators Ernie Bascom and George Sueno are investigating a murder in Vietnam-era Seoul, South Korea in this debut mystery. While the pace is sluggish, Limon captures the dark and dreary nature of the time and place exceptionally well. As a serving member in the US Army along the DMZ in Korea in 1972, my memories are still vivid. What Limon couldn’t capture was the overall smell of the land as well as the generally fatalistic attitude of both Americans and Koreans at that time. On the one hand, the GI’s were happy to not be in Vietnam, but the feeling of being overlooked and forgotten was always there, i.e., “the good stuff” went to Vietnam, the leftovers and rejects to Korea. They got out of country R&R, we got a 3 day weekend in Seoul, etc. In a country where it was not unheard of to obtain a job by hiring thugs to beat up the other job seekers, the lack of a moral compass led to many interesting situations. I look forward to his next work to see if the editing is better. 02/06 Jack Quick

THE JAGUAR by T. Jefferson Parker: Erin McKenna, a beautiful songwriter married to a crooked Los Angeles County sheriff ‘s deputy, is kidnapped by Benjamin Armenta, the ruthless leader of the powerful Gulf Cartel. Armenta has ordered Erin to tell his life story-in music-and write “the greatest narcocorrido of all time.”The two men who love Erin: her outlaw husband, Bradley Smith, and the lawman Charlie Hood, must work together to rescue her. Here, amid the ancient beauty and haunted landscape of the Yucatecan lowlands, the long-simmering rivalry between these men will be brought closer to its explosive finale. 1/12 Jack Quick

Jake & Mimi by Frank Baldwin: All I can say about this book is that it is HOT HOT HOT! Some romance, lots of kinky sex and a very dramatic ending…I loved it.

JAMAICA ME DEAD by Bob Morris: Fast fun romp through Jamaica, featuring the inimitable protagonist from Bahamarama, former Miami runningback Zack Chasteen. An old friend of Zack’s, Monk DeVane, asks for his help with security issues at the Libido Resort (I swear, I’m not making this up!) in Jamaica. Zack has to take him seriously when Monk’s boss is the victim of a bomb scare, right in the skybox at the Gators’ home game. Off Zack goes, more bombs go off, Homeland Security, the DEA and all sorts of island politicos get involved and Zack has to sort it all out while fighting off near-naked nymphs. Jamaica Me Dead is highly entertaining and highly recommended. 10/05

Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen: A cross between Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones for the senior set. May Newman, a lovely Jewish widow residing in a country club community in Boca Raton, is beset upon by her well-meaning but meddling daughter-in-law Carol, who is convinced that May needs a husband to be happy. She sets her up with Norman, and the story takes off from there. May’s best friend Flo, a retired librarian with a sharp tongue and a mind to match, takes an instant dislike to Norman’s best friend Stan, a part-time English professor. The view of Boca Raton is close-up and on target (I had a couple of very minor quibbles) and there are plenty of laughs en route to the predictable ending. Cohen is a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, but her in-laws live in Boca, and she has obviously made several visits to the community. Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JANE BITES BACK by Michael Thomas Ford: Michael Thomas Ford joins the multitude of authors playing with famous literary characters these days with his take on Jane Austen as a centuries-old vampire. The first of three proposed titles finds the authoress living in modern times and running her own bookstore. She’s also trying to get published under her now assumed name, Jane Fairfax. As she watches droves of others make money off her famous works, Jane struggles just to get one new book released. Imagine, 116 rejections while the Jane Austen Workout Guide becomes a hit in your own store. Meanwhile, her maker has reappeared and is threatening the new life Jane has made for herself. And, the creator of Mr. Darcy is finally delving into the dating world once again, and at something of a loss as to how to proceed, or even recognize a potential Darcy in her midst. What’s a vampire to do? Such a fun read. I especially love to imagine Austen duking it out with fellow literary blood-suckers, both literal and figurative. 01/10 Becky Lejeune

JANEOLOGY by Karen Harrington: A year after his wife is convicted of killing their son, Tom find himself under fire in the courtroom. One day, Jane snapped and drowned her two children; her daughter managed to survive. Public outcry demanded that there be some repercussions for Tom’s failure to prevent the crime, that, as her husband, he should have known she was on the edge of collapse and that he should have protected his children better. Tom’s lawyer hopes to exonerate Tom of all charges on the basis that Jane’s family history and genetic makeup made her predisposed to the crime. By tracing Jane’s family lines they uncover one example after another to support their theory, but will the jury buy it? Can you predict a person’s behaviors based on those of their forebears? What affects a person’s personality more, their DNA or the examples the witnessed in others? The question of nature versus nurture is a hot topic at the moment, one that Harrington handles with ease. Janeology is a thought-provoking and thoroughly engaging read. 05/08 Becky Lejeune

THE JANUS REPRISAL by Jamie Freveletti: This was the ninth Covert One novel ostensibly based on ideas and notes left by the late Robert Ludlum and authorized by the Ludlum estate. While Ludlum never wrote anything concerning a clandestine group called Covert One operating outside the auspices of the other intelligence agencies it is
exciting, fast moving and follows some of the Ludlum precedents. Action and suspense are continuous, with no letup. Lt. Col. Jon Smith, a member of Covert One, is at a hotel in The Hague to attend a WHO conference when a sudden, well executed attack occurs killing many in the hotel. The terrorists are after bio-chemical items stored by participants and succeed in recovering what they are after. Smith is a physician as well as a Covert One operative and is well suited to begin searching for the hazardous products the terrorists grabbed. He is aided by a beautiful woman, a successful money trader who somehow stole money from the leader of the terrorist group who is incidentally an old enemy of Smith. Also on his list of supporters is a social misfit who is a computer genius, and a rogue member of the CIA who is helping in spite of the enmity of that organization to Smith. If one does not seek great characterizations and a highly believable plot it is exciting and entertaining reading and does stand on it’s own without being attached to other Covert One novels. The book is fast reading when the reader wants to get involved with excitement and be entertained by pure adrenalin. 1/13 Paul Lane
The Jasmine Trade by Denise Hamilton: A car jacking gone awry turns into something much more complex when L. A. Times journalist Eve Diamond gets interested. She stumbles onto a Los Angeles subculture of gangs, the sex slave trade and parachute kids, wealthy Asian teenagers whose parents live on the other side of the Pacific, leaving them in the care of lawyers and housekeepers and trouble. Eve meets teen counselor Mark Furukawa and learns more about these kids and herself as their relationship intensifies. Intriguing characters and inspired writing move this story along at breakneck speed, culminating in a more realistic ending than most novels of the genre. It’s easy to see why it was nominated for the Edgar, Agatha, and Macavity awards. Don’t miss it.

JERUSALEM MAIDEN by Talia Carner: Esther Kaminsky, a young girl living in an ultra orthodox Jewish community, is always questioning her Abba about life, family and religion. In spite of her mother’s admonition that Esther has no need of such information her father indulges her. Her mother insists (and father quietly agrees) that Esther’s role in hastening the Messiah’s return will be through her submission to the man her father chooses as her husband. God, a harsh taskmaster, insists that Esther marry and have many sons. According to God, this is how she will fulfill her faithful duty as a Jerusalem Maiden. Esther, however, dreams of becoming an artist. JERUSALEM MAIDEN is a coming-of-age novel exploring the role religion, faith and family have on one girl’s hopes and dreams for her own future. Carner’s rich details subtly place the reader on the scene. Only when I stopped reading to contemplate Esther’s choices or caught my breath at the next turn in the road did I realize how deeply I was immersed in this story. JERUSALEM MAIDEN is breathtakingly beautiful and will provide many opportunities for personal reflection. 10/11 Kimberly Bower

JESUS OUT TO SEA: STORIES by James Lee Burke: Eleven previously published short stories, none of which include Dave Robicheaux or Billy Bob Holland. One is about the Vietnam War, two deal with the aftermath of Katrina. Others feature academics coping with the encroachments of society and several coming of age tales. All in all a very satisfying sampler, which shows the depth and breadth of Burke’s considerable talents. 07/07 Jack Quick

JESUS’ SON by Denis Johnson: Mr. Johnson currently has a very hot title in Tree of Smoke, so I picked up his book of short stories to see what he had done in that milieu. It is simply the most powerful writing that I have encountered in the last couple years. In these stories, Mr. Johnson writes from the disconnected perspective of the addict/alcoholic in full cry. I was particularly affected by the story, Emergency Room, in which two badly whacked out orderlies, a sort of nurse Rachett and a doctor who is in over his head attempt to treat a man who has been stabbed near his one good eye by his wife. One thinks of De Quincy, Poe, Burroughs, et al and concludes this guy can play ball in their league. His description of local bars in various cities, especially including one he calls The Vine are dead on as is his description of the anesthetized inhabitants. These stories will haunt you. 10/07 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

A JOB TO KILL FOR by Janice Kaplan: Of all the luck, L.A. interior designer Lacy Fields has her latest client drop dead while inspecting a posh penthouse she and her hubby are talking about buying. There goes a commission, and even worse the fingerprints of her pal Molly Archer are on the refrigerator where the arsenic laced bottle of Japanese tea that was the cause of Cassie Crawford’s untimely demise was stored. It turns out Cassie has a biker friend who is murdered soon after, and attention shifts to Lacy as suspect number one. Filled with great fashion moments like “I slowly peeled off my wet shirt and lace La Mystere cleavage-enhancing bra. The padded push-up cups had absorbed the ocean water like sponges, thrusting my chest up to my chin,” and “the necklace clinked against her wedding band, so heavy with sapphires and diamonds that Cassie risked carpal tunnel syndrome every time she lifted a well-manicured finger. Of course, now that she’d married Roger Crawford, she never needed to lift a finger again.” This is the second outing for Fields (after 2007’s Looks to Die For), from the Editor In Chief of Parade Magazine, the popular weekly newspaper supplement. 09/08 Jack Quick

JOE VICTIM by Paul Cleve: This sequel to The Cleaner (2012) finds serial killer Joe Middleton imprisoned and awaiting trial as the accused Christchurch Carver, but despite his imprisonment, dead bodies are still piling up. Joe’s had a run of bad luck; his first two attorneys were murdered, and the latest is court appointed and to Joe’s way of thinking, not that bright. Joe’s convinced a jury will find him innocent by way of insanity, but his lawyer and the court-appointed psychiatrist strongly disagree. The only bright spot is a disgraced ex-cop working for a TV psychic who offers Joe a deal; lead them to a murdered cop’s missing remains for a large payoff, which Joe decides is his ticket out of jail. Meanwhile he has to contend with fellow inmates trying to kill him, his mother’s upcoming wedding, and politicians looking to bring back the death penalty in time for his sentencing. Once again gruesome violence abounds, so fainthearted readers be forewarned. Chelsea Cain and Thomas Harris fans will appreciate reading from Joe’s viewpoint. 9/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.
JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clarke: Two magicians battle for supremacy in this amazing literary fantasy debut. In early nineteenth century England, no one practices magic anymore. No one but Mr. Norrell, that is. While Mr. Norrell is dedicated to the study of practical magic, Jonathan Strange is quite the opposite. Strange is a young and stubborn magician with a thirst for knowledge and a growing curiosity about all things magic, especially the fabled Raven King. Norrell agrees to take on the young Strange as his pupil despite his knowledge of an ancient prophecy foretelling the rise of two great magicians destined to be enemies. Can the two friends defeat fate or are they destined to be pawns in an elaborate game set in motion by the Raven King decades ago? With a vivid cast and truly imaginative story peppered with her own original fairy tales, Clarke’s debut is nothing short of genius. Deemed the “adult Harry Potter,” this is an absolute must read for all book lovers. For readers who may be intimidated by the size of this tome, have no fear, there is a three volume trade collectors’ edition available. This makes it a bit more manageable, but be warned, with such an elaborate story you won’t want to wait long between volumes. 05/07 Becky Lejeune

JUAREZ JUSTICE by Jack Trolley: Tommy Donahoo is probably not what the boosters of NAFTA had in mind. When a beautiful Mexican lawyer says, “It’s not over until the fat lady is buried,” Donahoo “didn’t correct her. It was, he suspected, the Mexican version.” Donahoo is supposed to be in Tijuana assisting Mexican Police Captain Torres on a case involving the murder of a rich socialite who was prominent in helping the poor. The contrast between rich and poor is so great it causes Donahoo’s young SDPD translator to become involved in a reckless plot to assassinate Tijuana’s leading criminal. Donahoo begins to wonder if he is there to solve a crime or commit one, a distinction not always apparent to his Mexican counterparts. The Mexican and American cultures meet with the grace of two bull moose rutting in the forest. Trolley knows how to pack a punch into what otherwise might be an ordinary police procedural. 08/06 Jack Quick

THE JUDAS GATE by Jack Higgins: British Muslims have joined the war in Afghanistan – on the Taliban side. It is up to Sean Dillon and his mates to get to the bottom of this new and disturbing development. Both the President and the Prime Minister want this situation resolved immediately. In typical Dillon fashion, he doesn’t go to war, he brings the war to him. Another fine outing from the Brit master of the contemporary thriller. 02/11 Jack Quick

JUDAS HORSE by April Smith: Sometimes it takes a horse to save a horse. FBI Agent Ana Grey is back after a shooting incident when she learns that a fellow agent has been murdered by a group of hard-core anarchists operating behind the façade of FAN (Free Animals Now). The fellow agent not only went through basic with Ana, but at one time the two considered marriage. After successfully completing the FBI’s infamous undercover school, she must now play the part of a down-on-her-luck animal lover. In the process her “Judas Horse” becomes infatuated with the real mustangs the animal lovers are purporting to be trying to save. That infatuation doesn’t extend to Julius Emerson Phelps and his “family” who are determined to do damage to the Bureau. Ana is walking a tightrope that may or may not give out under her in this excellent thriller. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see more of her in future cases. 03/08 Jack Quick

JUDAS KISS by JT Ellison: Lt. Taylor Jackson returns from her much needed vacation to face what could be the toughest challenge of her career. When classy housewife Corrine Wolff is discovered bludgeoned to death in her home, the suspicion naturally falls upon her husband. Then Jackson and her team make some disturbing discoveries regarding the Wolff family and their extra-curricular activities and a whole new avenue of suspects opens up. Meanwhile, a run-in with a stranger leads Taylor to a startling discovery of her own, one that threatens her professional life. Plus, a crazy hit man is gunning for Baldwin, and has recently gone missing, and the Pretender still evades capture. It will take all of Taylor’s strength to make it through this one and still keep her cool. With each new installment to this series, JT Ellison continues to prove that she is one of the best and the brightest in the genre – she should be on everyone’s must read lists. 01/09 Becky Lejeune

JUDAS KISS by J.T. Ellison: Beautiful, pregnant Corrine Wolff is dead, apparently brutally beaten in front of her young daughter. It’s a dangerous case for Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson which really explodes when it is learned that Wolff and her husband were making and distributing homemade pornography. In the course of the investigation her people turn up old X-rated footage of Taylor that could destroy her career and her engagement to FBI agent John Baldwin. Meanwhile, one of Baldwin’s old enemies is intent of exacting revenge on John. High stakes emotionally and professionally for both as they try to get to the bottom of all this without blowing up their own somewhat fragile relationship. Interesting. 12/09 Jack Quick

JUDGMENT CALL by J.A. Jance: Adequate police procedural heavy on the family relationships side. When Sheriff Joanna Brady’s daughter, Jenny, stumbles across the body of her high school principal, Debra Highsmith, in the desert Brady’s personal and professional worlds collide, forcing her to tread the difficult middle ground between being an officer of the law and a mother. Crime solving in the modern world of social media challenges Brady who soon learns more than she ever suspected as she finds and dismisses various suspects. Secrets buried for many years come to light as Brady works to be both a good mother and a professional law enforcement officer. 2/13 Jack Quick

Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke: I am a long-time fan of James Lee Burke and his Louisiana cop hero, Dave Robiocheaux, who has a young daughter named Alafair. I was not surprised, therefore, to learn that Mr. Burke also had a daughter named Alafair. I was surprised to learn that she is grown up, had been working as an assistant district attorney in Portland and has written a legal thriller of her own. It is an excellent story about a woman D.A.’s attempt to try a would-be murderer-rapist for a vicious attack on a 13 year old girl. Ms. Burke holds no brief for the accused or the criminals of the world, bluntly characterizing them as mean and stupid. Her writing is as tough as her father’s. My favorite passage was “I suppressed the impulse to mow her down with the Jetta. I would’ve opened a six-pack of Fahrfeghugen on her ass over the c-word, but under the circumstances I could handle the b-word.” Her descriptions of trial preparation and activity, as well as intramural skirmishing in the D.A.’s office, are dead on. This is one of the most accurate “lawyer books” I have ever read and will be a contender for best first mystery of the year. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

JUDGMENT DAY by Sheldon Siegel: It’s been a few years since the last Mike Daly & Rosie Fernandez legal mystery, but it was so worth the wait. I love this San Francisco series featuring ex-priest Daly and his ex-wife Fernandez. This time out they are working on a particularly intricate case; an attorney, imprisoned for murdering a couple of drug dealers and another attorney, is just days away from being executed. Last minute appeals rarely go well, and this case is complicated further by the fact that Mike Daly’s father was one of the cops involved in the arrest and prosecution. Great dialogue is one of the hallmarks of this series and really helps move the story along, while at the same time investing these characters with strong emotional appeal. I admit that I love the Perry Mason moments along the way that contribute towards making Siegel one of the best legal fiction writers out there. 06/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

Julie & Romeo by Jeanne Ray: This charming, contemporary romance is set in Boston with a middle aged Jewish/Italian Romeo & Juliet. Don’t miss it! Now available in paperback.

JULIE AND ROMEO GET LUCKY by Jeanne Ray: Julie and Romeo is one of my favorite books ever, so I was really looking forward to this sequel and I’m happy to say it did not disappoint. It also did not live up to the original, but sadly, sequels rarely do. Julie & Romeo are still dating, they haven’t figured out how to move past that Julie’s daughter Sandy, her husband (Romeo’s son) and their kids are living with her, and Romeo has the same problem at his place with the addition of his elderly mother who still harbors the family feud against Julie. Not as confusing as I’m making it sound but a problem for the happy couple. Until Romeo decides to carry Julie up the stairs a la Rhett Butler in the Gone With the Wind on a rare night that they have the house to themselves; unfortunately, Romeo isn’t as young or strong as Rhett was and he gets hurt – too hurt to move and he ends up living in Julie’s bedroom for a while. Meanwhile, Julie’s older daughter, the career woman who swore she never wanted kids hears her biological clock ticking and gets pregnant and ends up living with mom too, at least temporarily. With Romeo’s family visiting at all hours, chaos ensues. These are great characters that I enjoy spending time with, and combined with Ray’s trademark gentle humor and pathos bring the story home. The easiest description of this book for readers of her previous books is to say this reminded me of a cross between the first book and the last, Eat Cake. And it was equally delicious. 07/05

JULIET by Anne Fortier: Julie Jacobs is the “lesser” twin of Janice. Janice is prettier, has more friends, is more adventuresome, and when the aunt that raised them dies, she leaves Janice everything except a key to a safe deposit box in Siena, Italy. Julie is off on an adventure, where she learns that her real name is Giulietta Tolomei and that she is the direct descendent of Shakespeare’s inspiration for his Juliet. Their warring family are the Salembenis, and Julie/Giulietta spends time in Siena chasing down her history and searching for some mysterious treasure. The only problem I had with this book was the main character; a whiny woman with no self esteem. I liked Janice, the selfish, spoiled sister more, and I probably wasn’t supposed to. I do have an affinity for Shakespeare and history, so I found the story, which bounces back and forth between modern day and the 1300’s predecessor of Romeo & Juliet, just fascinating reading. 9/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

JULIUS KATZ AND ARCHIE by Dave Zeltserman: Shades of Nero Wolfe – Julius Katz shares the famed Rex Stout detective’s love of good wine, good food and interesting women. Boston’s most brilliant, eccentric and possibly laziest detective, Katz, has as his sidekick, Archie, a tiny marvel of whiz-bang computer technology with the heart and soul of a hard-boiled PI. Famous Boston mystery writer, Kenneth Kingston, tells Julius he wants to find out who’s planning to kill him. The problem is almost everyone in Kingston’s life has good reason to want to kill him, and this case soon plunges Julius and Archie deep into the world of murder and publishing. If you enjoyed Nero, you will love Julius and Archie is even better than RD-D2 or 3CPO as an android partner. 8/12 Jack Quick

JUNE BUG by Jess Lourey: Mira James never imagined life after college would be a doublewide trailer outside Battle Lake, Minnesota. Nor did she imagine her life would be endangered by a local legend. Nearly a century ago a diamond necklace was allegedly lost in Whiskey Lake. Mira’s diving expedition to try to find the necklace uncovers bodies, treasure maps, and much more than she bargained for. Nicely written cozy, heavy on local atmosphere and a good follow-on to May Day, Loury’s first Mira James adventure. Everybody has to have a gimmick. Mira’s is frozen Maple Nut Goodies. Hey, it could be worse. 03/07 Jack Quick

Jury of One by David Ellis: This third time out Ellis pens yet another winner. The first chapter draws the reader in immediately, but this isn’t just another page turner. Shelly Trotter is an attorney for the Child Advocacy Project. She represents kids who get into trouble, and barely makes a living. Actually, Ellis borrowed a trick that is popular with romance authors – he created a novel around a character that was barely mentioned in his previous book; in fact, I’m not sure she even was mentioned. Life Sentence revolved around some of her family members, but this is no sequel.
Shelly is approached by a young man she helped previously on a minor issue, only this time out 17-year-old Alex Baniewicz is in considerably more trouble – he’s accused of murdering a cop. Things become even more entangled when Alex informs Shelly that he is the son she gave up for adoption. There are enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning, but it’s the second storyline, Shelly’s personal story, that makes this story so memorable – plus the shocker of an ending. There are a lot of former & practicing lawyers writing books these days, some with considerable recognition – but Ellis is one of the best.

THE JURY MASTER by Robert Dugoni: David Sloane is a high powered attorney in San Francisco – with a conscience. After he wins a wrongful death suit for his obnoxious client, instead of celebrating, he suffers a migraine and a recurring nightmare that keeps haunting him. Meanwhile, the special assistant to the U.S. President, Joe Branick, commits suicide in a small West Virginia town – or does he? The local police detective is suspicious when the Justice department takes over the investigation with plenty of attitude. Then Sloane’s secretary tells him that Joe Branick left him a message the night before he died, and a mysterious package shows up in the mail. An ex-CIA agent has a visitor who delivers a thirty-year old file, bringing all sorts of trouble along with it. Innocent people (and animals) are being killed and somehow Mexico is going to solve our oil crisis. Dugoni manages to bring it all together at lighting fast speed in this superb, action-packed debut thriller. 03/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE JURY MASTER by Robert Dugoni: Dugoni opens this debut novel with wrongful death attorney David Sloane about to make his closing remarks. Sloane, who has won 14 cases in a row, hates his arrogant corporate client and must face an obviously hostile jury. Rather than focusing on the case, Dugoni quickly moves into new matters: a recurring childhood nightmare Sloane shares with former CIA agent Charles Jenkins, apparently a complete stranger. Meanwhile, West Virginia police detective Tom Molia investigates the suicide of a top adviser to the president. What he finds draws Sloane and Jenkins closer to the truth behind their shared terror: an international conspiracy 30 years in the making. An ambitious first effort, but it worked for me. Recommended. 07/06 Jack Quick

JUST ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE by A. E. Maxwell: California Private investigator Fiddler and ex-wife Fiora love each other too much to live together. In bed everything is fine, out of bed it is a good chance one will kill the other. But when Fiora’s twin brother is the object of a U.S. Customs Department investigation, she knows she needs Fiddler’s help in the daytime. It seems like in addition to dabbling in electronic chips, Danny has been dabbling into other areas, which have brought official and unwanted attention. With Fiora’s soft spot for her twin offset by Fiddler’s hard head and matching muscles, the pair swing into action, knowing they don’t have much time to save Danny from the feds, from his enemies and, most of all, from himself. Published in1985, this is first of what appears to be a fairly neat, yet now dated, series. 03/09 Jack Quick

A JUST DECEPTION by Adrienne Giordano: A love story (sort of) about a guy named Peter and a girl named Isabelle The minor details providing the ingredients for the plot are first; Peter is an ex Navy Seal and a former Jet Pilot. He has hang-ups about involvement with women beyond sexual activity because his ex wife dumped him due to his being busy as the aforementioned Seal and Pilot. Isabel is a beautiful attorney who has her own hangups due to a cousin of hers sexually molesting her when she was younger. Peter left the Navy and works for a private security company which is actually a mercenary business. Peter has to take some time off from work due to the fact that two of his subordinates were killed in the line of duty and Peter feels that he is to blame for their deaths. While on vacation Peter’s boss asks him to design a security system for Isabel. Peter is quite reluctant to do the job and points to his need for time away from work. Peter does finally take the job and guess what: it is lust at first sight for both. While working on the system’s design Isabel’s cousin is murdered and Peter is forced to prove that she is not culpable in the death. While proving Isabel’s innocence the lust turns into love and each are involved with removing the other’s hang-ups. The author does a good job of developing both protagonists as characters and while a simple plot the book is entertaining and makes for a good read. 11/11 Paul Lane NOTE: Only available as an e-book

JUST ENOUGH LIGHT TO KILL by A. E. Maxwell: California Private eye Fiddler is the nephew of an old time border smuggler so he is not totally at a disadvantage when he decides to head south to find what led to the execution of Special Agent Aaron Sharp, a man who once saved Fiddler’s life. A close encounter of the nearly deadly kind with a sniper quickly convinces Fiddler that there are those who do like his presence or his questions. Fourth in the 1980’s series featuring beautiful women, muscular men, and a cast of international villains. 03/09 Jack Quick

JUST MURDERED by Elaine Viets: This is the fourth entry into the always entertaining Dead End Job Series and it was as much fun as the books that preceded it. This time out Helen Hawthorne is working in a fancy bridal salon in Fort Lauderdale – former jobs included bookseller, salesgirl in a fancy dress salon, and telemarketer. Things seem to be looking up though – the money still sucks, but at least the boss is nice. But not all is swell in bridal-land. The beautifully sculpted Kiki Shenrad sashays into the salon with her drab daughter, the bride-to-be, and announces she needs a wedding gown, pronto. And some dresses for herself, the kind that will make her the center of attention instead of the bride. Many thousands of dollars later, Kiki is dead and Helen’s fingerprints are all over the place. Nothing to do but prove herself innocent, which Helen does – but it ain’t easy. Lots of laughs and lots to love about this book and this series. 10/05

JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman: Allyson and her best friend are off on a tour of Europe in the wake of their recent high school graduation. It’s their gift and vacation before heading off to separate colleges – Alyson to Boston and Melanie to NYC. On their last days in England, while visiting Stratford Upon Avon, the friends stumble upon a group called Guerrilla Will performing Twelfth Night in the streets. When Allyson runs into the play’s Sebastian on the train to London the following morning, it kicks off a string of events that will turn her world upside down. His name is Willem and Allyson spends just one day with him in Paris before returning to her everyday life. But in the year that follows, Allyson struggles with that old life. She no longer knows what she wants or even who she is, and it’s all thanks to that one day with a boy she barely even knew. A boy she can’t get out of her head. Oh, now I get it. Everyone raves about Gayle Forman and her books but until now I’d not read her myself. Just One Day is only half of the story. Forman has recently released Just One Year telling the tale from Willem’s perspective, which is perfect because the end of Just One Day is guaranteed to send readers on a mad hunt for the second book to find out more about Willem (and Allyson). 10/13 Becky Lejeune

JUST ONE YEAR by Gayle Forman: In this companion to Forman’s Just One Day the reader finally gets Willem’s side of the story. For him, meeting the girl he called Lulu made a lasting impression. But why, then, did he abandon her in Paris? Turns out Willem had a bit of an accident that landed him in the hospital and while Allyson was frantically trying to find her way back to London, convinced she’d been rejected, Willem was trying to find his own way back to her. Over the course of the next year he never forgets Lulu, but without knowing her real name he’s left with very little that can help him in finding her. And as Allyson is beginning to learn who she really wants to be, so is Willem. His own travels will take him to places he never imagined, both literally and figuratively, but will he get a happily ever after? I really loved getting to read this story from two different viewpoints. The reader gets to see how close the two come throughout their individual searches only to miss one another again and again. But like any good story, therein lies the excitement. Willem’s growth throughout Just One Year mirrors Allyson’s in Just One Day but it’s not until the very end that you’ll see what’s to come for the pair. A truly enjoyable read and a satisfying close to Allyson and Willem’s tale. 10/13 Becky Lejeune

Justice Deferred by Len Williams: First novel inspired by the real life events experienced by the author. Williams is the former CEO of Coca-Cola New Zealand, among other companies, and his son was kidnapped. A prison inmate, in for life on the three strike rule for theft, claimed he had killed the boy and offered to show Williams the grave. It turned out to be a bogus claim being used as an escape attempt, and Williams was horrified by the implications of the three strike law putting a man in prison for life for a nonviolent crime like robbery. He turned that story into this fascinating prison epic/legal thriller. Billy Ray Billings is a cracker from Mobile, Alabama and for the first half of the book we follow his life, starting with reform school and ending with life in prison for stealing small appliances. But the life sentence never should have been given – it was forced by the way the local cops were handling their cases to make their conviction rate look good. Enter Harry Brown, lawyer and free lance crime reporter for the local newspaper, who’s interest in this case is quite personal. The rest of the book deals with the legal maneuverings to get those life sentences overturned and have justice prevail. Williams draws the reader in from the first page and doesn’t let go – even after the last page, these characters will stay with you.

Fiction Reviews L: 1998-2013

December 23, 2013

La Cucina: A Novel of Rapture by Lily Prior: I absolutely loved this book! Set in Sicily, it encompasses food, love, the Mafia, sex, romance, and fun, all rolled up into one tantalizing read. Warning: guaranteed to cause severe afterglow in all who read it! Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

L.A. DEAD by Stuart Woods: Stone Barrington is about to marry the beautiful (but seriously crazy) daughter of a high-ranking Mafioso, whose other daughter happens to be married to Stone’s best friend, an NYPD cop, when Stone is called to L.A., where his former lover has just discovered her husband’s dead body. The lover is Arrington, the dead husband is a famous movie star, and everyone except Stone, who’s still in love with her, thinks she killed him. Stone manages to save the damsel in distress, get rid of his nutty near-wife without offending her father, and wrap up all the details except the most important one – whether he will make the. woman of his dreams Arrington Barrington? Stay tuned. 07/06 Jack Quick

L. A. OUTLAWS by T. Jefferson Parker: Parker is one of my favorite crime fiction writers but he hasn’t achieved the name recognition he deserves. Hopefully, this book will do just that. Suzanne Jones is a mild mannered teacher by day, but at night turns into Allison Murietta, fast food restaurant robber and car thief, who shares in the proceeds with local charities, including the local law enforcement fund raising arm. Murietta believes herself to be the many times removed grandchild of a famous California bandit, Joaquin Murietta. She gets a little out of her league when she stumbles onto a diamond deal gone bad; ten dead bodies and the diamonds just sitting there, waiting for her. But Lupercio, a machete-wielding madman, is looking for the diamonds and he doesn’t care who he has to kill to get them. Meanwhile, Suzanne meets straight-as-an-arrow deputy Charlie Hood, who’s been temporarily assigned to the murders. Pretty soon things are heating up between them just as he is figuring out who she really is. Take a wild ride with this one, you won’t be sorry – it’s sure to make my best of the year list. 02/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

L.A. OUTLAWS by T. Jefferson Parker: Another outstanding offering from Parker who always comes up with the neatest characters. By day, Suzanne Jones is an eighth grade history teacher with three sons in Los Angeles. By night, she dons a mask, pockets her derringer and steals – cash from fast food places, cars, and in the instant case, almost half a million in diamonds. You see, Suzanne aka Allison Murrieta, claims to be a descendant of Joaquin Murrieta, a 19th-century California folklore figure who was either a ruthless robber and killer or an Old West vigilante and Robin Hood. Suzanne/Allison’s problem is that the diamonds are the basis of a gang disagreement and a master criminal known as the Bull has sent Lupercio, a ruthless assassin, to recover them. Lots of violence and hot car action with just a touch of s-e-x makes this a fun read. One of my best of the year. 11/08 Jack Quick

LABOR DAY by Joyce Maynard: Joyce Maynard has become a superb story teller. While some may feel that “stories” do not rise to the level of serious literature, I am of the belief that story-telling is an ancient and honorable craft, without which we would not have “novels.”
In Labor Day, Ms. Maynard tells the story of Henry, a young man of thirteen. Henry is a ware and wise beyond his years, due to the combination of intelligence and a divorce which left him living with his mother, a very sad and peculiar woman. They live alone, in every respect, on the outskirts of a small New Hampshire town.
Their lives are changed forever by the insertion of the kindest escaped murderer that I can think of in literature. And it could not come at a better time for all of them. Henry’s mother Adele, has been teetering on the edge of madness and is not only brought back to normalcy, but beyond to happiness. Henry is given a guide to all of those perplexing social and growing issues that face a 13 year old male. But as you can imagine, this is a precarious arrangement and therein lies the tale.
I think that this is going to be a very popular book over time. It will benefit from world of mouth from anyone who happens to pick it up and become entranced by it. This is a perfect summer read. 09/09 Geoffrey R. Hamlin
The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis: This is a story about the Orthodox Jewish community of Memphis, TN and how they deal with someone new and a little bit different moving in. The narrator is the community itself and it makes for a compelling voice indeed. Don’t miss it.

LADIES’ NIGHT by Mary Kay Andrews: Every June I kick off my summer reading with Mary Kay, and she never disappoints. Ladies’ Night is a fun, fast read that kept me up way too late late turning the pages; I couldn’t put it down until I turned the last one. Grace Stanton is a young blogger with a growing following for her Martha Stewart-light type blog. Her husband is ambitious and has turned her little blog into an advertiser sponsored money maker, enabling them to move into a beautiful new McMansion with all the upgrades they could want, provided she blogs about them. Grace isn’t entirely comfortable with her new lifestyle, but she lets her husband push her along until the night she finds him in a compromising position in his $175,000 car with her young assistant. Fireworks ensue, followed by Grace driving said car into the pool, and then she moves out. She quickly learns that was a big mistake, as the divorce moves forward the judge orders her into a group counseling for some anger management. Grace moves in with her mom, who lives above the bar she owns in this small west coast Florida town, but Grace still has plenty to be angry about. Her husband has frozen her out of her home, bank accounts, credit cards and most importantly, her blog. Grace starts anew, finding a new project to blog about, an old Florida cracker cottage in desperate need of repair, and she makes some friends as the group takes to meeting up after their sessions at the bar where she’s living. This is Mary Kay Andrews at her best, with lots of angst, laughter, food and love. I can’t wait to try the Crab Corn Bisque! Don’t miss it. 6/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE LADY ELIZABETH by Alison Weir: Historian Weir’s latest is a fictional depiction of Queen Elizabeth I in the years prior to the beginning of her monarchy. As with last year’s Innocent Traitor, the story of Lady Jane Grey, Weir has used historical record and creative license to create an addictive and dramatic story that begins with Mary’s revelation to her younger sister that her mother, Anne Boleyn, has been put to death for the crime of treason against the king in 1536 through to Mary’s death in 1558. A twist in Weir’s tale is the notion that Elizabeth conceived and miscarried a child fathered by Thomas Seymour. People have been fascinated with tales of the British monarchy for ages, and the timely release of Weir’s novel provides a perfect opportunity for fans of titles such as The Other Boleyn Girl to gain more insight into this fascinating piece of history – taken with a grain of salt, of course. Readers looking for a more accurate depiction can tackle Weir’s extensive non-fiction collection on the Tudors, but the fictional interpretation leaves more room for the consideration of less popular, but still remotely possible, “conspiracy theories” that make for provocative reading. 05/08 Becky Lejeune

LADY KILLER by Lisa Scottoline: It’s great to be back with the all-girl law firm of Rosato & Associates, especially when Mary DiNunzio is at center stage. Mary is young and sharp as a tack, yet somehow exudes an innocence and Old World charm despite dealing with impending wars between the Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin fan clubs, high school “Mean Girls” all grown up, or the mob. She’s bringing home the bacon with all the neighborhood cases she takes, so it’s no surprise that former parochial school classmate and head mean girl Trish “Trash” Gambone looks to Mary for help when she fears for her life from her abusive gangster boyfriend. But Trish isn’t walking down any legal avenues to help herself, and she ends up disappearing along with her boyfriend. Mary is beside herself with worry and guilt, and the rest of the mean girl claque go into overdrive harassing her, the cops and anyone else they think will help them find their friend. Lady Killer is a thoroughly enjoyable read with warm, wonderful characters, gentle humor, and some unexpected twists and turns. 02/08 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE LADY MOST WILLING by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James & Connie Brockway: These three ladies are the queens of romance, so I had high expectations for this book and I was not disappointed. I couldn’t tell you who wrote which part, and it didn’t matter, the book flowed seamlessly which was another plus. The story revolves around a Scottish laird who decides to kidnap four potential brides for his two nephews. He accidentally also kidnaps a duke who was asleep in the carriage and they all end up snowed in during a storm. True love finds its path and the requisite happy ending is reached by all. This was a fun read for a weekend afternoon. 2/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

LAKE CHARLES by Ed Lynskey: For Brendan Fishback, the world has turned against him. First he is arrested for the murder of Ashleigh Sizemore, the daughter of a local hot shot who went to a bad hotel with Brendan. Because he was completely stoned and drunk Brendan cannot seem to remember if he did or did not factor into her death. To take his mind off his predicament he goes bass fishing on Lake Charles with best friend Cobb, who is also the husband of Brendan’s twin sister, Edna. Of course there are no fish biting, and then Edna goes zipping off on her jet ski and doesn’t return. As the two try to find her, they come across evidence that Lake Charles is the site of a major pot farm. From there things really start going down hill. If noir is your thing, Ed Lynskey is your author. 8/12 Jack Quick

A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME by Wiley Cash: Marshall, North Carolina may be a small town, but it’s one that’s filled with secrets. Adelaide Lyle has long known folks in her town — and her church — are hiding things. Though she has tried to protect the local children from the goings on at the River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following, Pastor Carson Chambliss has other ideas. Jess Hall and his brother, Stump, make a habit of snooping around and soon learn the dangers of such secrets. They witness something they shouldn’t – something they don’t quite understand – and it alters their lives in a disastrous way. When a healing at the church leads to a death, it’s falls to Sheriff Clem Barefield to find out what really happened. Wiley Cash’s debut is a stunning read. The story unfolds through the eyes of three narrators: Adelaide, Jess, and Clem, each of whom offers up a different piece of the events that take place. A Land More Kind Than Home is an exceptional book that’s rich, emotional, and brilliantly written. I expect great things from Cash in his sure-to-be-long literary career. 2/13 Becky Lejeune

THE LAND OF DREAMS by Vidar Sundstol: Winner of the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel and translated by Tiina Nunnally. While written in Norwegian, this Scandinavian thriller is set in Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior and is the first book of a trilogy. Lance Hansen is a police officer with the U.S. Forest Service, which mostly entails going after people fishing without a license and pitching tents outside of specified camping grounds. Hansen’s real claim to fame is that he is the town’s historian, with an avid interest in local history. While making his morning rounds, he finds the body of a young man who has been bludgeoned to death, and he isn’t really sure what to do. No one can recall a murder in this part of Minnesota, and indeed Hansen has to go back almost a hundred years to find another – oddly enough, in the same area. Hansen calls in the local sheriff who quickly realizes that since the murder took place on federal lands, that it is outside his jurisdiction and a call to the F.B.I. is warranted. They in turn determine that the dead man is a Norwegian tourist, and the friend he’d been travelling with is their prime suspect. FBI agent Bob Lecuyer flies in a detective from Oslo, Eirik Nyland, who befriends Hansen. Hansen is just as intrigued by the story of a murdered Native American in the 1800s as he is in the current murder, and finds some ominous ties to his own family. The landscape is a big part of the story, as is the history of the area, making this a fascinating look at Minnesota as well as a suspenseful read. Scandinavian crime fiction has exploded in popularity, and this is a superior addition to the genre. 10/13 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2013 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association. Reprinted with permission.

THE LANGUAGE OF SECRETS by Dianne Dixon: After living in London for years, Justin Fisher is finally returning to California. This will be Justin’s first opportunity to reconnect with his family, but if he was expecting a warm homecoming he was strongly mistaken. He finds that his childhood home has been sold and his father has been sent to a convalescent home. Justin’s arrival is just two weeks too late, however, as his father has passed away. His father’s possessions lead him to his sister’s home where he’s ordered off the property. At his parents’ gravesite, Justin makes a discovery that comes as a big surprise: a headstone with his own name on it. As Justin begins to look into his past, he discovers that there are gaps in his happy childhood memories. In fact, actual recollections of his childhood are few and far between. Learning what caused this break in his memory becomes Justin’s obsession. What could be so terrible about one’s own past that they block it out completely? Overall, Dixon’s debut is an absorbing read that unfolds at a pace that is sure to keep you reading straight through in one sitting. Some holes in the plot are revealed if one looks too deeply into the book, but all in all The Language of Secrets is a page-turner and a good read. 04/10 Becky Lejeune

THE LANTERN by Deborah Lawrenson: Les Genévriers is everything a couple could dream of—a fixer-upper with charm and spirit, located in the beautiful French countryside. For Dom and his girlfriend, nicknamed Eve, it’s an escape from the world and a paradise in which their new relationship can grow. But a chance encounter leads Eve to question just how well she knows her new lover. Dom was married and the mysterious Rachel is almost never spoken of. As Eve grows more suspicious about Dom’s secretive nature, Dom himself begins to pull away. Eve’s tale alternates with that of Bénédicte Lincel, one of Les Genévriers’s last owners. Bénédicte is haunted by her past and by a terrible tragedy that will soon be revealed. The Lantern is a gorgeous book. Lush with detail and vivid imagery, the underlying story of a perfumier is an added element that Lawrenson injects with ease. The result is a story that comes alive through Lawrenson’s descriptions: the reader can almost smell the lavender and feel the texture of the farmhouse walls while living Eve’s and Bénédicte’s tales. The Lantern is an obvious tribute of sorts to Rebecca and is sure to please fans of the classic gothic tale. 08/11 Becky Lejeune

LAST BREATH by George D. Shuman: Shuman’s debut, 18 Seconds, was a major hit with mystery fans and Last Breath promises to continue this trend. Sherry Moore is a blind woman with a very unique talent – she has the ability to “see” a person’s final eighteen seconds of thoughts. Sherry has become something of a celebrity after she uses her ability to help in several high profile murder cases around the country. Lately though, her ability has been clouded by a deep depression resulting from the murder of her friend John Payne. Sherry reluctantly agrees to help when the bodies of three missing women are discovered in a storage container at an abandoned meat processing plant. It has been two years since the women disappeared. Just after their abductions, two teenage boys were caught on tape kidnapping a young woman in a parking lot and forcing her into a van. Police chased the suspects until the van careened over the edge of an overpass and exploded. Now, authorities finally have a chance to close the case. As it turns out, the teenagers were not the killers after all. No, these three women fell prey to a much more dangerous and twisted killer, one that has been active and covering his tracks all this time. Although officials are hesitant to use Sherry, the killer takes a special interest in her ability and begins to pursue her personally, ensuring her involvement in a case that could be her last. This is a great new series for mystery and suspense fans. Last Breath is a chilling and perfect follow-up to 18 Seconds. 08/07 Becky Lejeune

Last Car to Elysian Fields by James Lee Burke: Homicide Detective Dave Robicheaux of the Iberia Sheriff’s Department, an alcoholic in recovery, is in serious emotional trouble in this book. His wife Bootsie has died. His daughter Alafair (see review of Judgment Calls) is away at college. And he has sold his bait and fishing business to his old partner, Batist. He is alone and he is thinking about drinking. Obsessively.
The story line begins with Dave (“Stretch” to his friends) assuming personal responsibility for protecting an activist Catholic priest, Father Jimmy Dolan, from an ex-IRA hitman. The hitman, Max Coll, is a complicated and interesting soul. Burke’s books are philosophical enough in tone that using the word “soul” seems entirely appropriate.
Other story threads have to do with the prison camp death of a blues singer named Junior Crudup, a contemporary of Leadbelly’s, many years ago and the continuing coverup of that old death as well as the coverup of new ones. Hitman, oldline corruption and historical evil persisting to the present are stirred up by Robicheaux and his former partner, the hell-raising, good-hearted slob, Clete Purcel.
Evil with a capital E and racism are recurring themes in Burke’s work and Last Car is no exception. He also reminds us that the beignets in the Cafe du Monde are not far from the St. Louis cemetery and that bodies not properly interred will float to the surface.
All of Burke’s Robicheaux’s stories are worth reading and this is particularly good. It is a mark, I think, of Burke’s story telling ability that I wanted to shake Dave and tell him to call his sponsor. ~This review contributed by Geoffrey R. Hamlin.

THE LAST CHILD by John Hart: When twelve-year-old Alyssa Merrimon disappeared, her family fell apart. Her twin brother Johnny became obsessed with trying to find her, her father took off, not to be heard from again, and her mother sank into a world of drugs and booze, helped along by a wealthy boyfriend who liked beating her and Johnny. Detective Clive Hunt is also obsessed, both with finding Alyssa, and with her mother, and his obsession costs him his marriage and puts his job is jeopardy. But this is Johnny’s story and his quest to find the sister he lost, leaving no stone unturned. He takes his mother’s car when she’s passed out and spies on all the small townsfolk of Raven County, NC, occasionally taking his best friend Jack along, and he keeps meticulous records. The world is a dark place when seen through his eyes, and Johnny is an unforgettable character in a finely drawn, yet enthralling adventure. With his best novel yet, the Edgar award winning Hart (Down River) firmly cements his place along side the greats of the genre and beyond. One of the best books I’ve read this year. And don’t miss my interview with Hart on the BookBitchBlog. 05/09 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch. Copyright © 2009 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE LAST CONQUISTADOR by Michael Elias: A novel in an exotic setting with an interesting bit of fantasy attached to it makes for a good read. Peruvian archeology professor Nina Ramirez and several of her students are on an expedition in the Andes mountains and make an incredible discovery. They unearth the 500 year old mummy of an Inca girl that was ritually sacrificed and in the same area, the corpse of a young boy dressed in the same ancient costume as the girl. It is evident that the boy was recently killed in accordance with the ancient Inca customs. Nina and her students take both bodies back to the city, delivering the boy to the police as a murder victim. At the same time three children are kidnapped in Peru with one an American boy in Lima. American FBI agent Adam Palma, who is just finishing work in Latin America, is assigned to the case and asked to help the American mother recover her son. By coincidence Adam had an affair with Nina seven years earlier and had asked her to marry him. At that point she refused to leave Peru, with Adam returning home, marrying an American girl and having a daughter with her. His wife was killed by a man that Adam was hunting, leaving Adam to raise his daughter by himself. In beginning his investigation, Adam teams up with Nina and a mysterious young boy named Quiso, the brother of the murdered child who apparently speaks only the ancient language of the Incas. Fortunately Nina does understand the tongue, and together the three, along with a local police officer looking into the kidnappings and the murder, set out to find a lost Inca city which may be practicing the old ritual sacrifices and where the kidnapped children may be. The city is found and the ancient culture of the Incas is still in existence. The fantasy part of the story is the discovery that the Incas were probably more advanced in medicine, mathematics and other practices than our current civilization. An interesting novel with one weakness which is the almost nonexistent fleshing out of the characters. This may not adversely affect the read as the action and changes in settings is fast and continuous. Elias does fascinate with his descriptions of Peru, the Amazon and Andes mountains and the customs and practices of a long gone people. 6/13 Paul Lane

THE LAST DANCE by Lonna Enox: When the husband of Sorrel Janes is brutally murdered, Houston police suspect the crime may be related to Janes’ high-profile position as crime reporter for a Houston television station. They recommend she leave the area, at least until they can get a better handle on the situation. Fortunately Sorrel has property in Saddle Gap, a quiet little town in southwestern New Mexico. Her aunt had willed Sorrel a combination home and gift shop, which seems the ideal solution for her. She can pursue her hobby of photography and run the now dormant gift shop started by her aunt. Within a few days of her arrival in Saddle Gap, she is involved in not one, but two, murders and an inquisitive detective seems determined to solve the murders as well as Sorrel’s secrets. Recommended. 4/13 Jack Quick

THE LAST DARK PLACE (#8) by Stuart Kaminsky: Newly married Bill Hanrahan is trying to save his pregnant wife from a stalker while Abe Lieberman has his own problems. Thirty three years ago he arrested a gunman who has now re-entered Abe’s life as a professional assassin. The gunman is killed by an elderly janitor at the airport where Abe is preparing to fly him back to Chicago. Abe is trying to find out why when an Asian-Latin gang war break outs. Just another outing for our two long suffering Chicago cops in this eighth from Edgar-winner Kaminsky. Vengeance is mine sayeth a lot of people in this one. 05/08 Jack Quick

LAST DAYS by Adam Nevill: Nevill’s book is an exceptionally well done horror tale, and is a real find in reading. The format of the novel is reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project. Kyle Freeman, a second tier maker of documentary films, is called upon to make a movie about a defunct cult called the” Temple of the Last Days”. In 1975 the cult terminated in a massacre of the members and it’s leader Sister Katherine. Kyle, with the help of his long-time camera man and friend, Dan, takes on the project. The two travel to three sites of the cult: London, Paris and the Arizona desert. What they find is a miasma of complete horror in the growth and spread of the cult. Sister Katherine is depicted as holding an almost hypnotic spell over the adherents as well as the use of deadly force in keeping them in line. The horrors they find continue to grow in their minds as they go deeper into the history of The Temple of the Last Days. Nevill’s descriptions are extremely well done, and their fear is a logical extension of those terrors. The book presents two well delineated themes and is the product of a great deal of research. First is an excellent presentation of what a cult is, and the probable draw it has in getting people to join it. Next is the evolution of the horror invading the cult and growing in scope as Kyle investigates the massacre and the probable reason for it. Not everyone enjoys horror stories, but for those that do read Last Days and afterwards look for more of the same from Adam Nevill who surely has the knack of creating undertones of chilling terror in an engrossing book. 2/13 Paul Lane

THE LAST EMBER by Daniel Levin: You might call this one the Jewish Da Vinci Code, but that would be an unfair comparison. THE LAST EMBER is much better than that. Lawyer and former classics scholar Jonathan and UNESCO antiquities expert Emili are after a mysterious man known only as Salah al-din, who has been leading an illegal excavation under the Temple Mount and has now appeared in Rome. Jonathan and Emili’s adventures start in the hidden tunnels under the Coliseum and continue across the Roman Forum into the Jewish ghetto and eventually to Jerusalem. Following clues in ancient maps and manuscripts, and then going underground to follow the trail, the pace never wavers as the excitement builds. You don’t have to be a scholar of Roman and Judaic history and archaeology to be able to follow along easily in this well written religious thriller, which is also a first rate piece of European crime fiction. Definitely recommended. 08/09 Jack Quick

THE LAST FLIGHT OF THE ARROW by Daniel Wyatt: February 20, 1959, amid much uproar, the Canadian prime minister stood before the House of Commons to announce that his government had decided to cancel the CF-105 Avro Arrow supersonic fighter-interceptor program. But what is really going on? Are the Americans involved? What of a Polish born pilot, now in the RCAF and grieving his lost family? And what about the reports that Russia is planning a pre-emptive air strike. With roots in the Battle of Britain, this Canadian based thriller offers some interesting plot twists as it blasts its way to a conclusion averting World War III. 07/09 Jack Quick

THE LAST HORSEMAN by Frank Zafiro: Lieutenant Cal Ridley is dead from cancer and The Four Horsemen, the unit he set up to right the injustices of a broken court system may die with him. Retired cop Sandy Banks is the last of The Four Horsemen. He is ready to call it quits, but there is one more job. What Banks doesn’t know is that he has been betrayed by his final partner and is being pursued by federal agents bent on busting the case wide open, leaving Sandy to scramble for his life. Sure, its vigilantism, but who among us has never felt that certain criminals do not get what they deserve. For a few at least, the Four Horsemen even the slate. 03/11 Jack Quick

THE LAST QUEEN by C.W. Gortner: Juana de Castile was born in Spain in November of 1479. The daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand was also sister to Henry VIII’s Catherine of Aragon. For all of that, it seems few really know this amazing woman’s story. In 1496, in an agreement that would provide protection to Spain from possible French enemies, Juana was married to Phillip I (Habsburg) and in the same agreement, Juana’s brother Juan, destined to become ruler and uniter of Castile and Aragon, was married to Philip’s sister, Margaret. Philip died just a few months later and his would-be heir arrived stillborn. Juana and Philip subsequently became next in line for the Spanish throne. Juana would be the last queen of Spanish blood to sit on the throne. Unfortunately, Juana became the center of a ruthless power struggle that eventually lead to her title as Juana la Loca, Juana the Mad. Gortner’s passion for his subject is quite evident and it seems that after six years of research, he has uncovered enough evidence to support his belief that Juana was not in fact crazy at all. The Last Queen is a fascinating novel. Gortner builds Juana as a strong and noble woman who suffered for her unwavering beliefs and loyalties. For so long, the Tudors and the British monarchy have been the darlings of the genre. I found it most refreshing to read not only about historical Spain and the wonderful atmosphere that Gortner creates, but also about someone that history seems to have forgotten. 09/08 Becky Lejeune

The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg: In this fast paced and timely thriller set a few years into the future, Osama Bin Laden is dead, Saddam Hussein plans to launch something nasty – biological, chemical or nuclear – against Israel and/or the U.S. and someone is trying to assassinate the President. Jon Bennett, Wall Street mogul who worked for the President before he became President, is Army-volunteered into helping arrange an Israeli-Arab oil agreement that could bring about world peace. But first there’s that little nuclear thing to take care of…nothing like the threat of nuclear war to keep the pages turning. I would have liked to know these characters better, and some of it was hard to believe, or that could just be my naiveté or wishful thinking. Fans of Clancy, Follett and Ludlum will enjoy this book; once started it is almost impossible to put down.

THE LAST MINUTE by Jeff Abbott: Abbott’s book is a continuation of his novel Adrenaline and the short story “Last Chance” in which Sam Capra , an ex-employee of the CIA and currently working for an organization called the Round Table must kill a man if he is to get his infant son back from the boy’s kidnappers. While a definite continuation, The Last Minute does stand quite well on it’s own due to the allusions which bring the reader up to date without spending too much time rehashing past events. Sam is allied by the organization The “Nine Suns” with a woman that has as her forte the hiding of individuals that need to disappear as well as being a skilled computer hacker. Leone has her infant daughter in the hands of Nine Sons as well and is tasked with aiding Sam in his assignment to kill a man who has evidence which can do harm to Nine Suns. The man must be killed if the two are to get their children back.
One of the best segments of The Last Minute is a fascinating excursion into human slave trafficking and the horror of being caught up in it. Sam has been given ownership of a group of bars around the world by Round Table as a means of travel when authorized by them to handle assignments without giving away what he is doing. Future Sam Capra books should find reoccurring characters Mila and Leone reappearing. Both women are attracted to Sam which should form the basis for later romantic interests. The Last Minute is an action packed fast paced read guaranteed to keep the reader glued and when finished awaiting future Jeff Abbott books involving Sam Capra. 8/12 Paul Lane

LAST RITUALS by Ursa Sigurdardottir: This first novel by Icelandic author Ursa Sigurdadottir is one of the freshest, most interesting mysteries I’ve read in years.
Thora Gudmundsdottir is a single mother and attorney, partner in a small law firm. She receives an odd request: A wealthy German family wants to hire her to investigate the recent murder of their son, because they believe the police have the wrong person in jail. They send Matthew Reich, head of security for their family-owned bank, to work with Thora. The son, wealthy in his own right due to an inheritance from his grandfather, was a graduate student in history at a university in Reykjavik, researching Icelandic witchcraft. This son, and his grandfather before him, was beyond weird. His entire body was covered with symbols, tattooed and scarred — and then there’s his split tongue…. The wrongly- accused is a fellow student; an in-group of students of similar strangeness, plus a few faculty, become the suspects.
The possibilities of such a basic plot are rich and varied, and the author takes full advantage. Yet in spite of such material the novel’s tone is upbeat, always shining light into its darkness. Thora is not only intelligent, she is full of understanding for everyone involved in what is basically an ugly mess, and she has empathy especially with the young people. It’s a quirky, compassionate, thoroughly satisfying read. I can’t wait for Sigurdardottir’s next book. 12/07 Dianne Day
THE LAST SECRET by Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore: Journalist Cotton Stone is on top of the world after the Grail Conspiracy but then she falls for a hoax in one of her stories. What goes up must come down and she begins a slow downward spiral career-wise. A year later she finds a crystal tablet at an ancient Inca site that predicts the Great Flood and another “final “ cleansing yet to come. The second cleansing is to be led by the daughter of an angel. Legend has it that there are a series of tablets and the last one in the series will hold the key to surviving Armageddon. Needless to say, Cotton is soon on the trail of the ultimate tablet encountering various and sundry misadventures on the way. Well written, but reads almost like a movie script in process. Maybe Ms. Sholes and Mr. Moore will hit it lucky and this will be the next “Da Vinci Code” flick. Recommended. 08/06 Jack Quick

THE LAST SELLOUT by Jack Bludis: It’s the early 1950s, and World WAR II is over except in Hollywood where the movie studios are gearing up to do battle with the newly popular television, or per the current buzz word “Tee-Vee”. In the meantime the House UnAmerican Activities Committee is pitting friend against friend “finding” communists under very bed and ruining careers of hundreds of innocents along with the few scoundrels they do uncover. In this atmosphere of subterfuge, double-dealing, theft, and the sin-of-sins, merging with New York TV production companies, there is plenty of opportunity for an enterprising private eye who can keep his clients straight and assure he doesn’t end up working against himself in the shifting sands of temporary loyalties surrounding him. The principal thread line involves a young studio secretary who is missing along with a number of valuable scripts that might be adapted for television. Their author is murdered, and within a few days, he is nominated for an Oscar. Hired to investigate the writer’s murder, a cynical private eye finds himself involved with a violent motorcycle gang, low-lifes, and studio bigwigs. Then an apparent innocent is murdered, another remains missing, and the detective becomes an avenging angel. His actions endanger not only his own life, but the life of the woman he loves. Written in true pulp style, and definitely a winner. 8/12 Jack Quick

THE LAST STRIPTEASE by Michael Wiley: Ex-husband, ex-alcoholic, ex-Cop Joe Kozmarski is barely making it as a Chicago private investigator when he witnesses a murder while on routine surveillance. His old police colleague, Bill Gubman, takes the 911 call, but is soon shot by the suspect, who remains unnamed and at large. Meanwhile, Kazomarkski gets a call from retired judge Peter Rifkin offering him $15,000 to take on a case. Joe and the judge have a history but $15,000 is what Joe gets for 10 cases, if he is lucky, so he reluctantly takes it. It turns out that Rickin’s employee Bob Piedras is suspected of killing his girlfriend, Le Thi Hanh, after a lover’s tiff. When starts to investigate, Le’s violent brothers begin to dog his every move. With all this going on, Joe’s mother surprises him with an ill-timed request to take in his rebellious 11-year-old nephew, who insists on helping with the investigations. A very auspicious debut from an author I look forward to reading again. 08/10 Jack Quick

THE LAST SURGEON by Michael Palmer: Gillian Coates’s sister’s death has been ruled a suicide, but Gillian is certain that her sister did not kill herself. With virtually no clues to follow, Gillian is at a total loss until someone is able to draw a connection to a box of comics her sister had in her closet. Each comic is in the Nick Fury series, and each one has the word Doctor handwritten on the cover. Dr. Nick Garrity, a former soldier suffering from PTSD and an advocate on behalf of his fellow soldiers suffering from the same condition, was jokingly nicknamed Dr. Fury by his fellow soldiers. How he connects to Gillian’s sister will come as a surprise to both of them, but once they begin working together, they’ll uncover a conspiracy that has been years in the making. As entertaining and page-turning as I’d expect from Palmer. The usual medical aspects do take something of a backseat in this one, however, making it more of a traditional thriller a change from the medical thrillers he is known for. 02/10 Becky Lejeune

THE LAST TEMPLAR by Raymond Khoury: I am certain there were other religious thrillers before The Da Vinci Code exploded on the scene. Now it seems there is a whole new genre of them. Among the best are those by Raymond Khoury. Some background. The Knights Templar, a small monastic military order formed in the early 1100s to protect travelers to the Holy Land, eventually grew and became wealthy beyond imagination. In 1307, the French king, feeling jealous and greedy, killed off the Templars, and by 1311, the last master, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake. The whereabouts of the Templars’ treasure–and their secrets–have been the subject of legend ever since. Now, four horsemen, dressed as Templars, crash into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and steal a coding device that can unlock the Templars’ secrets about the early days of Christianity. Archaeologist Tess Chaykin and FBI investigator Sean Reilly begin the chase to recover the device. Their path crosses three continents with new twists at almost every page turn until at last, as expected, good overcomes evil. Definitely recommended. 11/10 Jack Quick
THE LAST VAMPIRE by Patricia Rosemoor and Marc Paoletti: When the military discovers a mummified body hidden away in a Texas cave, they unwittingly release a power unlike any other. At first, they are able to keep the body in a sleep-like state, unaware even that awakening it is a possibility. They harvest DNA from the remains and use what they’ve found to create an elite race of super soldiers. Their facility in New Orleans is breached, however, when a voodoo priestess with somewhat honorable intentions, compromises one of their own. Through him, she is able to awaken Andre Espinoza de Madrid, a vampire dating from the Spanish Inquisition. Captain Scott Boulder, leader of the unit is the only one left who can fight the creature. The military also brings in Leah Maguire, an anthropologist whose specialty is white magic. She too once survived an attack by this creature. Together, they must return him to the hell that he came from, before it’s too late. An interesting concept that was something of a disappointment. It worked well enough that I would like to see what happens in subsequent titles, if they continue, but as an individual novel, it fell short for me. 07/08 Becky Lejeune

THE LAST VOICE YOU HEAR by Richard B. Schwartz: An apparently maniacal killer is on the loose in London, someone strong and very practiced at impalement. So far, so nasty, but when a victim is dispatched in similar fashion in Disneyland, of all places, Jack Grant is called in. He discovers the killer’s identity, but there’s a problem. There’s a method to the killer’s madness. Moreover, Grant has an ethical problem of his own, he’s plagued by his conscience, since he understands and even sympathizes with the murderer’s cause. The division between right and wrong is blurred in this twisting tale of vengeance and deadly justice. 06/06 Jack Quick

THE LAST WITNESS by W.E.B. Griffin: (11th Badge of Honor series) For Philadelphia homicide detective Matt Payne, the news from an old law-enforcement friend from Texas sends a shiver down his spine: a connection between the Mexican drug cartels and the Russian mob. Russian girls are being smuggled in to work in the sex trade, and now some of them are dying or just disappearing. The trail leads right to Philadelphia—where Payne learns that’s not all. It isn’t just Russian girls who are vanishing. Teenage girls are being lured from foster homes. Police department sources are turning up dead. The lone living witness has gone into hiding, with everybody—the Russians, the cartels, some of Philadelphia’s most powerful politicians—all looking for her. It’s up to Payne to find her—and hope he gets to her first. 9/13 Jack Quick
THE LAST WORD: A SPELLMAN NOVEL by Lisa Lutz: Izzy thought things would be easier once she was in charge. She couldn’t have been more wrong. Perhaps it was her method of takeover (hostile) or her new approach to management (dictator style) that did it, but her parents in particular have gotten hard to deal with. Morale and insubordination are the least of Izzy’s worries, though, when she discovers she’s being framed. Her patron, client, and sometimes running partner, Edward Slayter, who has been carefully keeping his early onset Alzheimer’s under wraps with Izzy’s help, runs a company that’s recently seen some big money losses. The money in question is being funneled through an offshore account and some of it – note, not all of it – seems to have been deposited into the Spellman company bank account. With the feds focusing all their attention on Izzy, she knows she’ll have to find out who the real perp is or be forced to take the fall herself. Word has it this may be the final case file we get from Izzy’s POV. According to Lutz, though, this is not the last we’ll see of the crazy and hilarious PI family. In fact, hardcore fans might like to know that David Spellman’s kids’ book on negotiation can actually be found on bookshelves these days (How to Negotiate Everything by Lisa Lutz and Jaime Temairik). 7/13 Becky Lejeune

THE LAST CAMELLIA by Sarah Jio: Livingston Manor in Clivebrook, England, is home to more than one secret. Flora Lewis is desperate to help her family and their struggling business. In 1940, she’s recruited by a con man interested in tracking down a rare camellia said to be hidden somewhere on the grounds surrounding the Livingston Manor. Flora travels from New York City to Clivebrook where she is to pose as a nanny caring for the four Livingston children in the wake of their mother’s death. At the same time, the village has had an odd number of disappearances that have yet to be solved. Flora, too, would go missing and her story would remain a mystery for over fifty years until Addison Sinclair and her husband Rex arrive. Rex’s parents have recently purchased the crumbling estate and have offered the couple the use of the house. Addison stumbles upon an old journal that initially appears to be nothing more than a chronicle of the grounds’ many camellias. But further examination of the book reveals a strange code of sorts and notations that Addison discovers match the names of the missing Clivebrook women. The mystery of the Livingston Manor and Flora’s fate provide Addison a much needed distraction from her own troubled past. A past she’s unable to escape even as far away as Clivebrook. The Last Camellia is an absorbing read, one that I found it hard to put down once I’d begun. It was a bit on the short side for my taste, though: certain pieces of the story felt like they warranted much more detail and attention than they were given in the narrative. Aside from wanting more, it was a very enjoyable read. 5/13 Becky Lejeune

THE LAST CATO by Matilde Asensi: Dr. Ottavia Salina, a brilliant and highly esteemed paleographer, is working away at her classified workspace deep within Vatican City when her routine is interrupted. She is given the task of deciphering the strange tattoos — seven Greek letters and seven crosses — found on an Ethiopian man’s corpse. Found next to what was left of the body were three pieces of wood — suspected by Vatican scholars to be fragments of the Vera Cruz, actual splinters from the Cross on which Christ was crucified. Actually written in Spain prior to the explosion of religious-themed thrillers such as THE DA VINCI CODE, THE LAST TEMPLAR, THE TEMPLAR LEGACY and THE SECRET SUPPER, it follows the now familiar line uncovering deceptions, corruption and outright lies that have shaped the “truth” as we know it. What hath Dan Brown wrought? 05/06 Jack Quick

THE LAST COYOTE By Michael Connelly: Detective Bosch is a very aggravated fellow. After stuffing Lt. Pounds head through a glass door, he’s put on involuntary paid suspension, and forced to go to Chinatown for therapy.
Meanwhile his earthquake damaged house has been red-tagged by the city for demolition, his squeeze left him because she thought she found out who he was….he did not contest the matter, and he comes into therapy with Dr. Hinios with an extremely bad attitude. But along the way, the therapy sort of starts to take, in a weird way,
and Harry decides because he’s got some time on his hands, he’s going to re-open the case of his mother’s murder. All people make choices in life along the way, to explore their inner self. There are all certain roads we should not go down, or revisit. Harry, being Harry, ignores all that, and bends as many rules as possible, as usual. (His explanation of why he got PO’d at Lt. Pounds, to Dr.Hinios, is priceless.) And being Harry, he thinks he’s doing the Lord’s work here. He makes progress, which leads him along an old trail that is packed with ghosts. Hell, half the people he’s investigating are nearly dead. What Harry does not realize, nor understand, is that he’s opening a book into his personal hell. And along the way, he inadvertently gets innocent people killed. Of course he rationalizes it by thinking they were scumbags anyway, but that only holds up for so long. A powerful and searing read. 02/06 DOC

THE LAST DAYS OF DOGTOWN by Anita Diamant: Diamant is sure to please fans of The Red Tent with this historical novel as she once again manages to make a distant place and time come alive. Dogtown is a poverty stricken village on Cape Ann, Massachusetts and this is the story of the people who were too poor, too sick or too old to move away. Each chapter is a character study interwoven into a story that brings Dogtown of the early 1800’s to life. Judy Rhines is an unmarried woman whose secret lover Cornelius is a freed slave, and she is at the heart of the story. Other townsfolk include the madam, Mrs. Stanley, a female stonemason, Black Ruth, who dresses like a man, Oliver Younger who lives with his very strange aunt, and Easter Carter, whose diminutive size belies a big heart. Their stories will linger long after the last page is turned in this fascinating story of 19th century New England. 09/05

THE LAST QUARRY by Max Allan Collins: Quarry, Collin’s hit man that he put to rest many years ago, is retired and living in the Minnesota woods. He accidentally gets involved in rescuing the kidnapped daughter of a Chicago media baron, who then wants to hire him to kill a young librarian in Colorado. When he winds up falling for his target, one Janet Wright, Quarry begins second-guessing his assignment and experiences an uncharacteristic change of heart that almost gets him killed. The latest from Hard Case Crime bringing back the best of the pulps – in new adventures. 08/06 Jack Quick

The Last Detective by Robert Crais: I’m rolling out the welcome mat for Elvis Cole and Joe Pike; I’ve missed these guys but it was worth the wait for a book this good. Elvis is still with his girlfriend Lucy, and is babysitting for her son, Ben, while she is away on business. Lucy calls to say she’s on her way home so Elvis tries to let Ben know, but he is nowhere to be found. First thought is that he’s wandered off down the hill behind the house to play, but after several minutes of searching and yelling that yields no response, Elvis realizes something is seriously wrong. Lucy gets home and there is still no Ben – and then the phone rings with an ominous message. A man claims he has taken Ben in retaliation for something Elvis did when he was in Vietnam. Elvis lets Joe know, and calls a cop he knows. Who should show up to take the report – Carol Starkey, the bomb squad cop of Demolition Angel (which was terrific) who is now working juvenile. Tension builds throughout the story – an especially good touch was using the time lapsed since Ben’s disappearance as chapter headings – until the final twists force everything into place. Personal note: the back cover alone would be worth the $24.95 – but the inside is just as satisfying.

LAST LULLABY by Denise Hamilton: While on assignment with customs officials at the Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond is caught in a shootout. Among the casualties are three dead passengers and a mysterious Asian infant who disappears in the confusion. Finding the missing girl becomes a n obsession with Eve, even though this places her at risk physically and professionally as she gets caught up among immigration officials (who have taken the little girl into hiding, supposedly for her own protection), armed goons (who’ll do almost anything to get her back), and an immigration attorney (who hopes to win political asylum for the toddler). Spice it up with a former lover, a bad-ass ten year old video wizard and a few other routine (for Los Angeles) characters and you have a twisty tale that, while sometimes over the top, delivers a satisfactory ending. Of all the crime fighting journalists, broadcasters, et. al., that are out there, Eve Diamond remains more credible than most. 11/07 Jack Quick

THE LAST MAN by P.T Deutermann: Following a long list of engrossing novels by former career Navy Captain P.T Deutermann, The Last Man is a very well done archeological story revolving around the self immolation of more than 900 Jewish Zealots at Masada in 73 A.D. David Hall a disgraced and discharged from his job American nuclear engineer travels to Israel in order to visit the Masada site and test his former girlfriend’s theory about what is really buried under the site and never been found. The Israeli government assigns an archeological professor and antiquities historian, Judith Ressner, as his guide and watcher. She has been in mourning for five years for her husband and is not happy about breaking away from her duties at the University. With both carrying mental baggage concerning past loves, friction is inevitable. David visits Masada and against Israeli regulations goes to the site at night alone and makes a startling discovery. The climax of the story takes the reader by surprise, but is logically in keeping with events and background. Generally characters are very well fleshed out and the reader develops an understanding and sympathy for both David and Judith. The only slight variation is the somewhat poor characterization of the villain Colonel Malyuta Skuratov a Russian emigre and head of security at the Israeli nuclear facility. It does not detract from the story but it is un-Deutermann-like to not allow us into the personality of this evil character and cheer as he is thwarted. An engrossing and very well researched book. 9/12 Paul Lane

THE LAST MAN by Vince Flynn: Joe Rickman has been working in the field for the CIA for many years. He is a brilliant strategist, and superb mover of men and resources in order to accomplish goals important to his employers. It would be unthinkable that terrorist interests could get hold of Joe and torture him for the information about CIA assets around the world that he holds in his head. The unthinkable happens when he is captured and all four of his body guards are killed. The CIA has only one man to call on to find and retrieve Joe, and that is Mitch Rapp. Vince Flynn has featured Mitch in many books over the years and created an individual to whom the end does justify the means. If he feels he needs to in order to achieve his ends he thinks nothing of killing an enemy of the US and never mind the opinions of the bleeding hearts that preach kindness and understanding for those whose only interests are harming America. Mitch is dispatched to Afghanistan and immediately has a run in with an Afghan official who indicates that he will run the investigation into Rickman’s disappearance. Rapp puts the man in his place by threatening to kill him if he does not cooperate with the CIA in ascertaining the truth about Joe Rickman’s disappearance. In addition to obstacles placed in Mitch’s way by Afghan authorities, the FBI comes upon the scene and indicates that it has proof that Mitch and Joe Rickman colluded in siphoning off money from CIA funds for their own personal use. And to add to Mitch’s troubles, an assassin presented in a previous book makes an appearance charged with getting rid of Rapp. Stage is set, characters and plot intermixed and Vince Flynn’s trademark rapid pace and constant action unfold to the delight of the reader. Like previous Mitch Rapp books there is no putting it down, and readers are caught up in the plot, counterplot of the story from the very beginning. 11/12 Paul Lane

LAST RITUALS by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir: In this first in a fairly new Icelandic series, a German grad student at a Reykjavik university is found murdered in a strange and ritualistic manner. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a lawyer, is retained by the family of the dead man. They do not believe that the suspect currently in custody for the murder is actually responsible and they want Thóra to investigate. She is teamed up with Matthew Reich, one of the family’s own employees, who has flown over from Germany to help. Together, they must dig deep into the murdered boy’s own questionable activities in order to find out who might be responsible for his death. Along the way, they find that the boy had an almost obsessive interest in witchcraft and Iceland’s own history of the practice, including witch trials of the sixteenth century. Could this obsession have led to the boy’s death? It certainly seems, so, but the mystery is much more complicated than that. Thóra is a welcome heroine; she really is not the typical “sleuth. ” In truth, it is her own smarts and wit, along with her ability to cope with stress (both personal and involving the case) that make her one cool (literal and figurative) main character. Last Rituals is a smart mystery and the translation works well, although there are a couple of connections that readers will probably miss until the very end thanks to language differences. 04/09 Becky Lejeune

THE LAST SIX MILLION SECONDS by John Burdett: Nicely done police procedural set in Hong Kong in the final days before its reversion to the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong Chinese-Irish Chief Inspector Chan Siuka, AKA “Charlie” Chan, is trying to solve a gruesome triple murder. His investigative efforts are hampered by corrupt British diplomats and businessmen, as well as by the usual bevy of gangsters and Chinese warlords. Burdett’s real life experience as a practicing attorney in Hong Kong lends credence to the portrayal. 07/08 Jack Quick

THE LAST SPYMASTER by Gayle Lynds: International spy thrillers are a rare breed ever since the end of the Cold War (if it really ended…) and ones with characters are rich as these, a storyline as plausible yet frightening as this, are even more rare. Charles Jay Tice was the station chief in Berlin for the CIA towards the end of the Cold War. In a shocking turn of events he is convicted of treason and gets life imprisonment in a maximum security prison – yet he manages to escape. Elaine Cunningham is one of the best “hunters” that the CIA has and she is put on the case – and quietly. No one wants word to get out that the world’s most dangerous spy is on the loose. But what she learns makes her question her assignment and her future – she uncovers a much larger conspiracy than anyone ever suspected. Lynds sets a new standard with her taut plotting, believable characters and terse, exciting writing – this is a page turner of the highest magnitude. 06/06 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE LAST SPYMASTER by Gayle Lynds: This is the way a thriller should be. Jay Tice is a legendary spymaster during the Cold War until he is sentenced to life in prison for treason against the United States. For three years he is a model prisoner, before he makes a daring escape using a roll of clothes in a blanket, a fake head, and a wooden arm covered in upholstery from the craft shop. Enter Elaine Cunningham, one of the CIA’s best “hunters” who is herself in jeopardy at the Agency. Elaine is given the task of finding Tice and so, it’s down into the rabbit hole of darkest corners of the spy game where nothing is as it seems and no one is who you think they are. Enemies are deadly, but then so again are friends. Is Tice innocent or guilty? Will Elaine succeed or will this be her swan song? Good enough to interfere with Super Bowl watching. 02/07 Jack Quick

THE LAST STRIPTEASE by Michael Wiley: I love finding new authors so I was delighted to find this one – Wiley is the most recent winner of the PWA/SMP Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. Previous winners include Steve Hamilton and one of my favorites, Michael Koryta. Wiley’s debut puts him in good company, and he lives up to it. Joe Kozmarski is a private investigator in Chicago who was formerly a cop. He went private after getting drunk and smashing up a patrol car, never a good career move. He still has friends on the force, which comes in handy after he witnesses a murder in a store while on surveillance. He goes after the murderer, who escapes, and calls the cops. The two officers who respond are young and don’t know Joe, who soon finds himself handcuffed and face down on the floor until the detective in charge, his best friend, appears on the scene. But that’s a case for the cops, not a PI, so when retired Judge Rifkin calls and offers him ten times his usual fee to help investigate a murder, Joe can’t say no. An old friend, Bob Piedras, is the chief suspect in the murder of his girlfriend, Le Thi Hanh, but of course swears he didn’t do it. Joe has his hands full between Hanh’s brothers following his every step and with babysitting his eleven year old nephew. Joe is an interesting character, the novel is fast paced and twisty, making The Last Striptease one terrific read. 10/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

THE LAST STRIPTEASE by Michael Wiley: Joe Kozmarski is another new Chicago PI who hopefully will be around for some time. If it weren’t for bad luck, Joe wouldn’t have any. Being an ex-cop and the son of a cop gives him just enough advantage to stay in trouble. The central issue here is finding proof that Bob Piedras, an employee of retired Judge Peter Rifkin, did not kill his Vietnamese American girlfriend Le Thi Hanh, after a lover’s tiff. But there are other murders to be dealt with along with a rebellious 11-year-old nephew. As Joe says, I have a Glock 23, a1989 green Buick Skylark, half rust, with no tread tires, and an office computer. If my life depended on it, I would fire me and hire someone else. I think Wiley is on a par with Sean Chercover whose BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD was also an excellent read. 12/07 Jack Quick

LAW OF ATTRACTION by Allison Leotta: Newcomer Leotta has served up some legal fiction with a side of romance in her terrific debut. Anna Curtis is a midwestern lawyer working in the U.S. Attorney General’s office in Washington DC. She meets up with Harvard Law classmate Nick Wagner, a defense attorney, and falls in love until they end up on opposite sides of a domestic violence case. Anna is a very likeable character – actually, all the characters are well defined and a bit more complex than at first glance – and there are some good plot twists in this debut. I am looking forward to more from this author. 12/10 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

LAWYER TRAP by R.J. Jagger: Newly minted attorney Aspen Wilde goes to work for the Denver law firm where she had interned the previous summer, but when she looks for the one nice lawyer she had befriended, Aspen learns that the woman has disappeared. The partners don’t seem very concerned, so Aspen decides to investigate, jeopardizing her job and possibly her life. Meanwhile, homicide detective Teffinger thinks he has a serial killer on his hands when a mass grave is found, which conveniently clears his first suspect, Davica Holland. Rich, gorgeous Davica has a major crush on the detective—and he’s not exactly fighting her off. Bad guy Draven has a chivalrous side, which comes out when he meets Gretchen, a hooker with a heart and a hard right hook. These three disparate story lines are told in these alternating voices and eventually become intertwined. VERDICT The pacing is relentless in this debut, a hard-boiled sexual slasher novel with a shocking ending, but the characters are more like caricatures. The supershort chapters will please those who enjoy a James Patterson–­style page-turner. NOTE: This was a self-published e-book which was in the top #10 of Amazon Legal Thrillers for over a year prior to purchase by Pegasus. 11/11 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch Copyright © 2011 Library Journal, a division of Media Source Inc. Reprinted with permission.

THE LAWYER’S LAWYER by James Sheehan: Jack Tobin, the protagonist of this novel is such an effective and professional trial lawyer that he has earned the respect of his colleagues in the Florida bar who refer to him as a “lawyer’s lawyer.” Having been well-paid for his efforts, he finds he can retire early and enjoy the life of a recreational fisherman in rural Florida. However, with the passing of his wife, he discovers meaning in his life again when he is asked to represent Death Row inmates by an organization known as Exoneration. This story begins to take wings when he is asked to represent an inmate who was accused of being a serial killer. Jack agrees to take a look at the file and discovers that the evidence found at the crime scene could not have been used to commit the crimes which the inmate was convicted for. Despite the obvious injustice, it takes all Jack’s skill to get an order from the State Supreme Court reversing the conviction at the eleventh hour. But, Mr. Sheehan is fine story-teller and the story does not end there. For after the inmate is released, the killings commence again. When he gets a call from his client saying that “he couldn’t wait,” Jack knows that these crimes are now his fault. Moreover, the female police officer he became close to during his rehearing and appeal is a likely target. The story gets better and better. And then, it gets better and better. 6/13 Geoffrey R. Hamlin

LAY DOWN MY SWORD & SHIELD by James Lee Burke: Different setting – Texas, instead of Louisiana. Different character – Hack Holland, instead of Dave Robicheaux. But the exquisite writing is there, the description of place and time that makes you feel the summer heat and see the “the cotton fields in bloom, the rows evenly spaced and stretched out straight as a rifle shot, and the tomatoes had come out big and red in the early morning showers.” Like Dave, Hack is a good man plagued by demons of his own making. He is a candidate for a Congressional seat and his views conflict with the Texas power brokers who feel they have the right to determine who runs Texas. Kick back, relax, and enjoy first rate writing as well as a good story. 07/09 Jack Quick

LEADER OF THE PACK by David Rosenfelt: This is the latest installment of the Andy Carpenter series, and my long time readers know that this is one of my favorites and is always on my “must read” list. I am happy to say that this outing is terrific and can be read in series order or not. Andy is the wise cracking millionaire lawyer who only works because he finds a case of interest. His real interests are sports and Golden Retrievers; well, dogs of any kind really. In this story he returns to an old case that he lost. Joey Desimone was convicted of murder but Andy always thought he was innocent, and six years after the conviction he uncovers some startling information that makes him go back to work and try and prove it. All the regular characters are back and the suspense builds nicely to a real twist of an ending. I read it in one very enjoyable, laugh-out-loud-yet-nail-biting sitting. 8/12 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

LEADER OF THE PACK by David Rosenfelt: The millionaire lawyer and sometime detective returns again in another very enjoyable Andy Carpenter novel. Each book involves several ingredients; first is Andy’s wit and the wisecracks that permeate the book. Second is a dog or dogs in Andy’s case and reflecting David Rosenfelt’s passion for golden retrievers. Third is his live in girl friend and his chief investigator Laurie who supplies the romantic interest for Andy, which is mainly being available for love making at various points in the story. Of course, there are other characters that make appearances in most Carpenter books with all being quite familiar to fans of the series. Andy has inherited several million dollars and is not that keen on building up his practice. Oh I did mention that Andy Carpenter is a lawyer, but only takes certain cases which normally involve helping an underdog. Andy retakes the case of the son of a mafia don who went to prison six years ago accused of murdering his lover and her husband. Andy defended the accused but lost the case and now finds himself doubting the original verdict. Like other Andy Carpenter novels action proceeds with problems galore which are surmounted by Andy and his team. Unlike other Carpenter books, Rosenfelt makes Latin American criminals part of the cast, and creates an ending totally outside of the reader’s expectations. The normal pleasant romp through Carpenter books has not deteriorated in any way due to the factors outside of the normal course of events. Leader of the Pack is quite easy to enjoy in one sitting, having the reader eagerly awaiting the next book about the adventures of Andy Carpenter. 9/12 Paul Lane

LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN by Janet Evanovich: Stephanie Plum is back and she’s in top form. This time her weasel of an ex-husband, Dickie Orr, is under investigation by Ranger. Dickie disappears, leaving behind a bloody trail and leaving Stephanie as a person of interest in his disappearance. Further investigation finds that Dickie had some unsavory partners and now $40 million is missing from their business account. One of the partners turns up dead and the others are convinced Stephanie has the money. Stephanie is still torn between the hot, hot, hot Ranger and her equally hot honey, Joe, but it’s the crazy situations, the cast of zany characters that play off Stephanie like Grandma Mazur and Lula, that make this book a laugh-out-loud funny yet comforting read. 06/07 Stacy Alesi, AKA The BookBitch

LEAN, MEAN THIRTEEN by Janet Evanovich: By now reviewing a Stephanie Plum is kind of like Radar’s public address announcements in MASH. They really shouldn’t be that funny but they are. Steph is recruited by Ranger to plant bugs on Dickie Orr, her two-timing ex-husband. But after she threatens to kill him in front of witnesses, he disappears, which makes her the prime suspect. From there on its Ranger and Morelli, Lula and Joyce, and don’t forget Grandma who has a new boyfriend. Steph’s Mom kills the boyfriend’s toupee with an empty wine bottle when it falls off on the dinner table during the Friday night dinner. Lula and Steph partake of the senior Citizen’s buffet at Costco and so on and so forth. Just find a place where no one will pay any attention to your laughing and have at it. Oh, beware of the exploding squirrels as well. 07/07 Jack Quick

LEARNING TO KILL by Ed McBain: Before Ed McBain became famous for the 87th Precinct series he paid his dues writing “paid by the word” stories for the 1950’s pulps like Manhunt and Argosy under the names of Richard Marsten, Hunt Collins, and Evan Hunter. Prior to his 2005 death, McBain oversaw the assemblage of this anthology of his early work. This collection presents 25 of those crime stories, published between 1952 and 1957. All are hard-boiled, short on subtlety and classic McBain. In addition to the stories themselves, McBain’s prefaces give insight into the origin of many of these pieces and how they ultimately affected his later work. Existing McBain fans will love this and for this not familiar with his work, Learning To Kill provides a great introduction to the man who held the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award as well as being the first American to receive the Diamond Dagger, the British Crime Writers Association’s highest award. The New York Daily News called McBain “one of the most prolific and admired writers of crime fiction in the world…McBain could not write a bad line.” What more can you say? 07/06 Jack Quick

LEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry: When Troy Chance witnesses what appears to be a small boy being thrown over the edge of a nearby ferry, she jumps into the water to save him without a second thought. Back on shore, Troy becomes convinced that it was no accident. Someone deliberately tossed the boy into the freezing waters. Keeping him safe is her only concern as she wraps him in warm clothes and takes him home. Days later, when the boy finally tells her his story, Troy decides to risk tracking down the boy’s father. But what led to this shocking crime and who is behind it? Troy knows that she must figure it out before the boy will truly be safe. What comes next will change everything for Troy. Learning to Swim is an intriguing debut. As it unfolded, I was completely caught up in the story and in trying to unravel the mystery alongside the characters. This is a book that begs to be read in one big gulp. 02/11 Becky Lejeune

THE LEFT HAND OF GOD by Paul Hoffman: Fourteen-year-old Thomas Cale has been a prisoner of the Sanctuary for years. Taken by the Redeemers and trained to be soldiers in the coming war against the Antagonists, Cale and the other boys at the Sanctuary have been abused and deprived of every comfort, all in the name of religion. When Cale and two of his friends find a hidden door that leads to the unimaginable, they take their first steps towards freedom. But it’s Cale’s discovery of a Redeemer committing a most unspeakable act that forces his hand. Now the three boys and a strange girl discovered within the Sanctuary are on the run. The Redeemers are not willing to give up any potential soldiers, but Cale is something different, and they will stop at nothing to get him back. I was hooked on Hoffman’s alternate history/fantasy by just the first page. Parts of the plot meander a bit, but the insight into his characters’ thoughts, the intricate world portrayed through his prose, and the