Monthly Archives: January 2012

Private Eye Protector by Shirlee McCoy

Private Eye ProtectorReviewed by Jane Squires

The title is perfect. Chance Richardson is a private eye who saves a woman who worked in his firm from an automobile wreck. He does not figure on becoming her protector.

Rayne Sampson moved from Arizona to start over. After a car accident she cannot remember why. She is guardian of a friend’s baby, Emma. Her friend died of a drug overdose which turned out to be murder. She asked Rayne to care for her baby if anything happened to her.

This is a book hard to put down. Suspense, murder, faith and love unfold in the story. Neither Chance nor Rayne want to fall in love but it happens. They can see how God brought them together.

Betrayal by Robert Fitzpatrick with Jon Land (Review #2)

BetrayalReviewed by Russell Ilg

Jon Land and Robert Fitzpatrick have combined to bring to paper the greatest “nonfiction novel” I have had the honor to read. The story of how the FBI protected and sheltered one of the most vicious and deranged killers in history is beyond what any fiction writer could scarcely imagine as a storyline and what Truman Capote had in mind when he coined the phrase in the wake of In Cold Blood. The story begins when Robert Fitzpatrick was transferred to the Boston Office of the FBI to do what he had done his whole career: close. And he was transferred to Boston to fix a broken office and reign in the problems there, just as he had done in Miami office with the ABSCAM investigation on top of his roles in the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination and civil rights murders and bombings in the 60s in Mississippi.

This book is such a page burner that I had to stop and see if the sun was still up. I simply could not put it down. It grabs you from page one and leads you on the ride of your life, and on that ride you will be brought to your knees in fear as to how corrupt the Justice Department and FBI were in this case. Officials in both simply sat back and allowed an Irish Boston gangster named Whitey Bulger to do whatever he wanted as long as they thought he was giving them info on New England’s Italian mob. And Bulger played them to the very end.

This will go down as one of the blackest eyes the FBI has ever received, Through his tireless work, Robert Fitzpatrick tried to make everyone up to the assistant director and head of the Organized Crime unit in Washington understand that they were being conned by one of the greatest con men in history. †The FBI was so sure that Whitey Bulger was giving them what they needed they did everything they could to stop Agent Fitzpatrick from doing his job to the point that he finally had to leave the only life he had known and loved and respected and honored his whole career.

Little Girl Gone by Drusilla Campbell

Little Girl GoneReviewed by Julie Moderson

I have never loved a character in a book as much as Madora. Drusilla Campbell makes you understand Madora and to be able to think like her and cheer for her.

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell

Wild ThingReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

When author Bazell’s Beat the Reaper hit the stores a couple of years ago, critics and readers alike were unsure what to think. Some instantly loved his style, others were put off by it. But as word of mouth spread, more and more people jumped on the band wagon and before you know it, even book clubs were discussing the book.

Bazell is back with his next installment of the life trials of Dr. Pietro Brnwa, former hitman for the mob who is now in the Federal Witness Protection Program (code name Ismael). After testifying against his former bosses in the mob, our protagonist had been put through medical school and in Reaper was working in a New York hospital’s ER until the mob found him and sent him on the run again. As Wild Thing opens, the doctor has had a crash course in dentistry and is working on a cruise ship-a job he is more than eager to leave behind. So when his handler Marmoset, calls with an offer of relocation he’s ready to go in a flash.

Brwna, who is now going by the name Dr. Lionel Azimuth, is sent to Portland, Oregon to meet with a reclusive billionaire who is obsessed with the possibility that there really are sea monsters. He has been given the opportunity to travel to see just such a creature in a lake in Minnesota. Wisely, the recluse has decided to send his personal paleontologist to check it out first and wants to hire Azimuth to go along to protect her.

The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell

The Chalk GirlReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

O’Connell has brought her star protagonist, Kathy Mallory back for her eleventh appearance in The Chalk Girl. While through the book readers will see some cracks in the icy cold persona of Mallory, the book in some ways is the most disturbing of the series-especially if the reader is squeamish about rats.

As The Chalk Girl opens, an effort to rid one area of Central Park of rats has backfired and the normally nocturnal, people-shy creatures are out in force in the daylight and amped up on chemicals that were meant to kill them. The chemicals have also made the rats both vicious and supercharged so that they are now actively attacking people and climbing trees. When a camp director from New Jersey suffers a heart attack at the sight of all the rats, her campers scatter. A cleaning lady making her way across the park has been watching the group as well as a small elflike redheaded child playing nearby. When the police are sent to round up the children, she insists they need to look for the little girl as well.

That little girl, who turns out to be somewhat of an expert on rats, is also found to be a kidnap victim from Chicago. It is through this small girl that readers see a side of Mallory not seen before. The child suffers from Williams Disease, a condition which leaves her vulnerable to all sorts of danger as she seeks affection for people. The person she has latched onto is Mallory. Mallory’s friend Charles Butler takes a special interest in the little girl and having known Mallory for years, is concerned about the child’s need for contact with Mallory. Because the child may have witnessed a horrible crime, Mallory is afraid that she is possibly in danger from the killer. Both Mallory and Charles set out to protect her at any cost but they each question the other’s reasons.

A Perilous Conception by Larry Karp

A Perilous Conception Reviewed by Paricia Reid

In vitro fertilization is a common occurrence now but in 1975, the subject was very controversial. Dr. Colin Sanford, an obstetrician in Emerald, Washington, is determined to be the first doctor to produce a baby by this method. He has recruited Dr. Giselle Hearn, a laboratory geneticist-embryologist to work with him. Because of Hearn’s department chair, their work must remain a secret. Joyce Kennett, a patient of Dr. Sanford, is determined to have a baby. With the help of Sanford and Hearn, Kennett gives birth to a healthy baby boy.

Dr. Sanford has assured Kennett that when he is in a position to make a public announcement about the baby’s birth, there will be no end to the publicity and Kennett will gain financially through the publicity.

However, before any announcement can be made, James Kennett, Joyce’s husband and the baby’s father, goes on a shooting spree, kills Dr. Hearn, and then kills himself. This is where Detective Ernie Baumgartner steps in and determines to discover what motivated James Kennett to murder a doctor and then commit suicide.

Black Thunder: An Ella Clah Novel by Aimee and David Thurlo

Black ThunderReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Ella Clah mystery fans, rejoice! The 17th novel in writing duo Aimee and David Thurlo’s series featuring Tribal Police Investigator Ella Clah, Black Thunder, is now available in your local brick & mortar bookstores and through this web site. I loved reading the 16th book, Never-Ending-Snake, the first one I’d read in the series, and Black Thunder is also an excellent, page-turning and suspenseful read.

Life on the Rez (as the authors term the New Mexico Navajo Indian Reservation where the Ella Clah series is set) is different, with its own atmosphere and its own political and religious rules. There are the views of the Traditionalists, the New Traditionalists, and the Modernists, and the authors show great sensitivity and respect to each of these groups and their diverse beliefs in their novels. Their intimate knowledge of the ways of life, culture, and mores of the Navajos shows in their writing, and makes their mystery series a unique reading experience.

When a construction crew worker hits something solid with his shovel and digs a bit deeper, he is shocked to discover a human hand, connected to the body of a murdered man. The man has been shot twice in the back of his head, execution style. Ella Clah and her partner Justine Goodluck secure the crime scene and lead the investigation under the hot summer sun, discovering eventually the graves of two more men and one woman. As in some of the other Ella Clah novels, who has jurisdiction comes into play as a part of the plot, as one of the bodies is found just across the border of the Rez, making that homicide fall under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff’s Department of San Juan County.

Gun Games by Faye Kellerman (Review #2)

Gun Games Reviewed by Julie Moderson

Faye Kellerman is one of my favorite authors and Gun Games is such an amazing book. It is definitely a must read book. Just a warning, you will stay up all night to finish it.

The story starts with 15-year-old Gabe Whitman sitting in a coffee shop minding his own business when a group of kids come into Starbucks looking for trouble. One of the boys tells Gabe that he is going to sit his seat and he better move now and then he shows Gabe the gun tucked in his waist band. Gabe handles it with such finesse and turns to try to be friendly with the thug. In doing so he disarms him mentally. Gabe is a very talented pianist and is home schooled so he doesn’t know whom these kids are. He is living with his father’s friend detective Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus. Children in the school that these thugs attend are committing suicide and no one can understand why. It takes a while to connect the dots and figure out what is really happening.

Where Am I Going?: Moving From Religious Tourist to Spiritual Explorer by Michelle Cromer

Where Am I GoingReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

How many of us have at one point or another in our lives thought along the line of, “is this it?” or “is this what I’m meant to do?” Author Comer had just those types of moments and decided that no, this “wasn’t it” and no this was not “what she was meant to do.” The problem was, while she was sure that there was something greater for her in the world-or at least something different, she was clueless what that something else was or where to find it. Where Am I Going? is the story of her quest to move from being an observer of life to being actively engaged in life.

Most people would look at the author’s life prior to this book and wonder why she was unhappy. She had a strong marriage, a terrific job and loving family. But for Cromer, something was missing. Raised in a meat eating, God fearing strong Texan family, there were definite expectations for her growing up and as an adult. There was not a lot of wiggle room in those expectations either. When she decided she could no longer eat red meat for instance, her mother told everyone she had developed an allergy to the meat rather than admit her daughter no longer ate the Texas staple. So can you even imagine the fall out when the author decided that she needed to explore other religions and beliefs? We’re not just talking visiting the Lutherans or Catholics here either. Cromer’s journey took her literally around the world as she dabbled in various forms of spiritualism.

The journey began with her picking a place on the other side of the world from her Texas home. The first stop on her quest was Kathmandu, Nepal. In this relatively brief book of about 170 pages, readers will follow her as she visits holy places around the world, has her fortune read, goes for a tarot card reading and becomes friends with a mystic. The book is a bit of a travel log, sort of a how to seek a different life manual and a lot of a comical memoir of the author.

$10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles by Parnell Hall

$10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Cora and Sherry are back in $10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles, the thirteenth book in the Puzzle Lady series, though in this installment of the popular series, readers don’t see much of Sherry since she spends most of the book in the hospital giving birth to her first child.

Cora however is called away from the hospital by Sherry and Cora’s attorney friend Becky Baldwin. It seems that one of Becky’s clients needs to have blackmail ransom delivered and it needs to be Cora who does the drop. Because this is Cora (and because it’s a murder mystery) it should come as no surprise to readers that when Cora shows up at the drop site, the only person there is a dead body-with a Sudoku puzzle on him. As faithful readers know, this is good news for Cora because, in spite of her puzzle column in the paper, she can’t solve crosswords but she is a whiz at Sudoku. Unfortunately for Cora, a crossword puzzle shows up shortly in connection with the case. With Sherry, the real crossword guru otherwise occupied in the hospital, Cora finds herself in a tight spot.

Cora has grown over the course of this series. In the early books she was portrayed as a drunk. Fortunately, author Hall has allowed Cora to get her drinking under control and although she still manages to get herself into a number of scrapes, at least she’s aware of her choices, poor as they may be. Sometimes her past still comes back to haunt her. In this book her no good, lowlife ex-husband Melvin appears on the scene.