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Archive for the ‘Murder’ Category

Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner picks up where her debut novel Missing, Presumed leaves off. Manon Bradshaw has adopted twelve year old Fly (from the previous book) and moved back to Huntingdon, living with her sister and nephew Solly. When a finance executive is stabbed to death in a local park, Fly is charged with the murder, even though there is no evidence to support the charge. He was seen walking in the park at the time of the murder and his footprint was found in some blood on the ground.

Manon, five months pregnant, is obviously beside herself, bemoaning the move which was theoretically to benefit Fly by getting him out of his old neighborhood. Barred from participating in the murder investigation, she of course, does so anyway, along with hired attorney Mark Talbot.

There are a lot (a lot) of twists and turns in Persons Unknown, that’s for sure. And it is a good read. However, it is short on solving the mystery and long on Manon’s bemoaning her fate: single, pregnant, tired, not keeping Fly safe in his new environment…and the list goes on. So, here you have the plusses and minuses. Do what you will.

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When P.I. Rick Cahill’s ex-girlfriend, Kim, comes to him with a problem, he cannot deny her request for help because he’s still in love with her. She fears her husband is cheating on her and she trusts no one but Cahill whose forte happens to be tailing wayward spouses. What he sees appears to be philandering, but as Cahill digs deeper, it becomes something more complicated, especially when a “solid citizen” with a notorious past enters the picture.

Simultaneously, Cahill receives a phone call from a contractor who found a hidden safe while demolishing Cahill’s boyhood home. Upon opening it, Cahill finds a gun, $15,000 in cash and safe deposit box key. His father, a dishonored La Jolla policeman who died a broken man after years of ostracism and alcohol, was rumored to be on the mob payroll, but Rick, who idolized his father, always held out hope that the rumors were false. Could this be evidence that they indeed were true?

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This fourth entry in the Rick Cahill series, after Dark Fissures, provides readers with a lot of action. Cahill does take his share of knocks. The plot moves along quickly. Cahill’s part time partner, Moira, a true curmudgeon, provides the smart repartee exhibited by many crime novel sidekicks.

Cahill’s antagonistic relationship with the local police, carried forward from previous books, continues unabated. A little more background, while alluded to, would have been nice, although its absence doesn’t really hinder enjoyment of this solid book. My only other criticism is that Coyle keeps harping on the rumors and demise and Cahill’s idolizing of his father. It was made crystal clear a few pages into the book and there was no need for the constant repetition. All in all, though, Blood Truth was a good read and  while I’d read more books in the series, I wouldn’t necessarily go specifically looking for them.

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Two Nights is a welcome departure from Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series and does not delve into the forensics of murder. Instead, you get an action packed story that keeps you reading.

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Sunday Night has a troubled past as a child, as a marine (?) and as a cop. It is just such an upbringing that entices dowager Opaline Drucker to hire her. A year ago her daughter and grandson were killed in an explosion at a Jewish girl’s school in Chicago. Her granddaughter, Stella, disappeared. The only sign of her existence was an attempt to access a bank account that only Stella and Opaline knew about. There has been no solution to the case, despite the ongoing Chicago P.D.  investigation.

Deep in her gut, Sunday thinks Stella is still alive. Because of her own troubled childhood, she feels a kinship with Stella, which is the only reason to leave her isolated island home in Charleston and head to Chicago.

Sunday criss crosses the country following leads, some of which are hunches as opposed to real leads. She butts heads with local law enforcement…of course. Her methods and demeanor are unconventional, but that is the appeal of Sunday Night. The ancillary characters are interesting characters as well, just adding to the appeal.

I’ll let you find out for yourself why the book is called Two Nights. I’ll let you find out for yourself how the case is resolved. But, I’ll warn you, once you start reading you may not want to put Two Nights down. Kathy Reichs has put together a good story.

As an aside, this new character for Reichs works well for her, unlike Renee Ballard, Michael Connelly’s new protagonist in The Late Show who, for all her rebelliousness, doesn’t generate the excitement that Sunday Night generates. Given the choice, you know which one I’d pick. Let’s hope Sunday Night appears in more books by Kathy Reichs.

 

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Kiewarra, Australia has been going through a two year drought when Aaron Falk returns for the funeral of his former best friend, Luke, his wife Karen and their young son Billy. Aaron and his father slunk away twenty years earlier when the town inhabitants accused them of being involved in the death of sixteen year old Ellie Deacon, Aaron’s friend. However, no one was ever arrested and convicted of murdering her.

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Times haven’t changed much in twenty years. The drought has made emotions fragile and the thought of Luke using his shotgun on himself and his family is understandable, if not condoned. However, the town’s new police detective Raco feels that things are amiss and with the help of Falk, a Federal Police Detective, starts questioning the events leading up to the triple murder/suicide.

Memories and grudges last a long time in Kiewarra and most people recognize and remember Aaron, not too fondly, and some will not even talk to him. News travels fast in this small town and soon everyone is aware of the ongoing investigation, even though they all believe the case is closed.

In The Dry, Harper makes the devastation and desolation caused by the drought palpable. She ably brings up the events of twenty years ago, juxtaposed with current events, the lives of sixteen year old kids juxtaposed against their current adult lives. She shows the meanness that existed all those years ago doesn’t go away over time.

I will say that I guessed ‘who dun it’ about two thirds of the way through the book, not because of any lapse in Harper’s story. It was half lucky guess, half logic. Several (two) people told me that they thought the book lagged a little in the middle but I didn’t find it so. It gripped me from the beginning. I liked the main protagonists and although I could see them as the initial installment in a series, I’m not sure how that would work, being the setting is in a small town…unless they both move to Melbourne (Falk already lives there).

The Dry is a good story and Jane Harper is now on my radar. I’ll be looking for future books by her.

 

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Private Detective Roxane Weary is the daughter of the late Police Officer Frank Weary. Weary was a hard driving, hard drinking detective and since his death nine months earlier, Roxane (with one ‘n’) has started following more in his footsteps, especially with the drinking.

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Her good (sober) brother, Matt, recommends her to Danielle Stockton, whose brother Brad was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Sarah’s parents and is on death row. The execution date is two months hence. Brad has, for fifteen years, denied any wrong doing and the only person who can corroborate that, Sarah, has been missing all these years. Good at finding things, Roxane is charged with finding Sarah, who Danielle swears she saw in town two weeks earlier.

Unfortunately, Roxane screws things up more than she recovers things, the alcoholic haze she lives under not helping her much. Her thought processes are mush at times and her theories go awry. Her credibility lessens, as does her popularity. But, of course, there is more than meets the eye, otherwise there would be no story.

The Last Place You Look, Lepionka’s debut novel, has the right amount of action, self pity, family discord. Despite, or because of, all her faults readers will immediately like Roxane. Her drinking is a problem. Her love life is a mess. Her life is a mess, actually. Positive comparisons to her father leave her ambivalent because in some ways she wants to be like him and in others she certainly doesn’t.

The story line is plausible and keeps readers reading. There was one part towards the end in which I was afraid for her. Now that takes a lot and says a lot.

All in all, The Last Place You Look is an admirable debut and I, for one, am looking for more adventures with Roxane Weary.

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Lorna Belling has issues. Her husband, Colin, is abusive. Her only hope is her lover, Greg, who assures her he will divorce his wife and take Lorna away from Colin.

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Meanwhile she’s selling everything of value to squirrel away money to move to Australia where her sister lives, just in case. However, some guy she wants to sell her car to keeps saying he’s transferred the money through Paypal but she hasn’t received it. He keeps threatening to reveal her love affair to her husband if she doesn’t turn over the car or refund his money.

But the worst…looking at one of her beauty parlor customer’s vacation photos, she recognizes Greg and a woman, presumably his wife, lovingly looking into each other’s eyes. Realizing Greg has been lying about everything including his name, Lorna vows to ruin him. While waiting in the bathtub at their hideaway for their next tryst, she’s thinking of revenge. When he walks in she screams her intention. In a fit of rage he bashes her head against the bathtub wall, causing her to become unconscious, blood spurting everywhere. Unsure if Lorna is dead, he flees. Returning later to a corpse, he plots to incriminate Colin.

The question, not answered until the very end, is “Who is the murderer?”

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, assigned to the case, appoints a young protege, Guy Batchelor, as Senior Investigating Officer partly because it will be good experience for Batchelor and partly because Grace will be in Germany meeting Bruno, the 10 year old son he never knew he had from his first marriage.

Need You Dead by Peter James, the thirteenth Roy Grace book after Love You Dead (all the titles in the series contain the word ‘Dead’), packs a punch. Suspects and red herrings abound and Grace, Batchelor and the investigative team follow the plentiful leads. Grace’s attention alternates between the case and the psychological impact on Bruno of his mother’s suicide and his subsequent move to England. This British police procedural has action, car chases, gory deaths and more. Something for every mystery fan.

Need You Dead is totally satisfying, although I do have one small criticism. The narrative glosses over how the murderer and Lorna originally met.  James ranks with other British mystery writers such as  Ian Rankin, Colin Dexter and Peter Robinson (although Need You Dead has no cold case component to it). If you’re already a Roy Grace fan or you’re looking for a new mystery series, try the Roy Grace series. At 13 books, it won’t be hard to start at the beginning and work your way through them. However, Need You Dead, stands pretty well on its own.

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Alexander Carpenter, at his father Nelson’s request, takes on the case of convicted murderer, Willie Miller, who has been granted a new trial based on a technicality. The senior Carpenter, a retired judge, was the D.A. who handled the original case seven years earlier, where all the evidence pointed to a guilty Mr. Miller.

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Shortly after taking the case, Alex’s father dies suddenly. As Alex is cleaning out his boyhood home, he comes across a photo of a young Nelson and three other young man who rose to prominence. Alex is surprised that Nelson knew these gentlemen as young men. He’s even more surprised to find that his father has a next egg of $22 million tht he never touched, stemming from a one time payment of $2 million deposited around the time the photo was taken.

As Alex and his investigator, Laurie, delve into both the trial and the photo, Alex’s life seems to be in danger and he’s convinced that the photo and the retrial are related.

Open and Shut is the first in the Alex Carpenter 15 book series. I’m not typically a fan of the ‘humorous’ mystery but Rosenfelt is able to combine some humor with an interesting story, a reasonable amount of action and a dog. What more can you ask for? Alex is a ‘normal’ guy, unsure of himself, doing dumb things on occasion, totally out of his league when it comes to romance. He’s not cocky. He’s not a hero. He doesn’t beat up everyone who gets in his way. He’s self-deprecating.

While I may not make it my business to read every book in the series, I certainly will pick up another book in the Carpenter series and future books will be on my radar.

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