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Daily Archives: August 20, 2012

The Prophet by Michael Koryta

The Prophet Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

With The Prophet, Michael Koryta returns to the type of book that first made him a bestselling author. After taking a walk on the paranormal side for the last few books, Koryta returns readers to Ohio for a “family in conflict” suspenseful mystery.

The basic plot of The Prophet is set around two bothers Kent and Adam Austin. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and found murdered. The loss of their sister nearly destroyed the family and the aftermath has followed the brothers into their adulthood. But different people deal with extreme guilt and grief in different ways. Adam’s life fell apart. He dropped out of Ohio State leaving a very promising football career on the field when he left. Eventually, he returned home to become a bail bondsman. In contrast Kent seemed to reach deep inside himself and gather strength from the tragedy. Kent became deeply religious. He married, became the local high school football coach and is now, finally about to lead the town’s team to a state championship. One brother lives on the edge of society while the other has become a pillar of that same society. And then, unbelievably, another young woman is murdered. The parallels to the earlier crime are just too much for the town. Again, the high school’s team is marching towards a championship and again the Austin brothers are part of that team. When their sister was murdered, Adam was the star of the team. Now it’s his brother Kent who is coaching. The town is left to wonder how this could all be happening again.

Koryta is a master at weaving the plot around the characters’ strengths and flaws in such a way that readers are drawn in to the story almost as characters themselves. As the town tries to sort out what has happened and compares the new murder with the Austin girl’s murder twenty years ago, as a reader I couldn’t help but get caught up in the “isn’t it just a little too much of a coincidence” line of thought of the townspeople. Adam was the football hero in the past and now here is his brother leading the team this time around. The first victim was their sister, now the second victim is again connected to Adam.

Shunning Sarah by Julie Kramer

Shunning Sarah Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

In each of Kramer’s five mysteries featuring television news reporter Riley Spartz, the author gives readers the primary story involving a crime and a secondary story-one with more of a human interest twist. In Shunning Sarah, Riley takes readers into an Amish community to investigate a young woman’s death while bringing us along as she follows a conflict between bear hunters and scientists studying bears’ movements and hibernation.

Riley Spartz is always looking for her next big story, but since the arrival of Bryce Griffin as news director, Riley’s efforts to find a suitable story grows harder by the day. As the leading station in the Twin Cities area, her job at Channel 3 had been to go for the scoop-the story that would bring in big overnight ratings and keep the audience coming back to for the follow-ups. But with Bryce’s arrival, the emphasis on the “big” story is being replaced by the cheap story. So when Riley’s parents called her with a tip of a child stuck in a sink hole, all of her news instincts said “this is it, this is the big story,” while her boss’s view was lukewarm at best. Bryce finally relented and Riley and her cameraman Malik headed for the scene only to find the boy was already safely rescued. Not wanting to return to the station empty handed, they attempted to get an interview with the mother and a picture of the boy, but the mother reacted in horror. And then they found out why. When the boy slid into the sink hole, he landed next to a dead woman. Riley decides to investigate who the woman was and how did she end up in the sink hole. Riley’s investigation leads her straight into the heart of an Amish community. What she finds there is disturbing.

The Skeleton Picnic: A J.D. Books Mystery by Michael Norman

The Skeleton Picnic by Michael NormanReviewed by Patricia Reid

Roland (Rolly) Rogers is a retired Kanab High School teacher and an avid pot hunter. He is anxiously waiting for his wife Abby to get home from work so the couple could begin their weekend searching for artifacts to add to their collection. When Abby finally gets home the couple begin their last pot hunting adventure. The couple travel into Arizona and drive into a remote area that they discovered the previous fall.

When the couple fails to show up at church their daughter, Melissa, contacts Charlie Sutter, the Kane County Sheriff. A missing persons report is taken when Melissa says her parents left on Friday and had planned to return on Saturday night. Sheriff Sutter phones J. D. Books, a ranger with the Bureau of Land Management, and asks that he check out the Rogers residence since it is close to him. Books is having coffee with Ned Hunsaker, a close friend and his landlord.

Books and Hunsaker go to the Rogers’ residence only to find that someone has broken in through the patio doors. When Books gets inside, he finds that the Rogers cat has been killed and is lying in a pool of blood. The display case for the antiquities that Rogers has collected over the years is broken and the contents have been removed.

A search discovers the Rogers’ truck and trailer at an abandoned campsite near an excavated Anasazi ruin. Footprints and other evidence indicate that the Rogers couple had visitors at their campsite.

Artifact (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series) by Gigi Pandian

ArtifactReviewed by Teri Davis

“Our paths will cross again someday.”

Isn’t that a haunting statement from a former boyfriend? Even though you have moved on with your life, there’s always that one little thought in the back of your mind, wondering what the intention was with that statement.

Jaya Jones has a successful new life working with a university and is proud of recently earning the security of having a tenured position. Her specialty is the time period of the British Raj in India.

When she receives a mysterious package from her former boyfriend, Rupert, she is surprised to find that he has sent her a ruby bracelet obviously from India and likely to be from the time of the British Raj. Curious about his obviously valuable gem, she takes a picture of it to ask her working associates about it and it’s value. Coincidentally, she is informed that this former boyfriend has died from being in automobile accident in Scotland. Was he killed because of the bracelet?

When Jada’s apartment is broken into and nothing is taken, she quickly realizes that she needs to place the bracelet in a secure place and puts it in a safety deposit box. She still has the picture of it which she carries with her.

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art Reviewed by Teri Davis

Most of us have seen the great art that can be viewed in museums. Unfortunately, most of us value the expertise and brilliance of the artists but there are always a view pieces where we think, “I could have painted that.” How is what we consider great art different from those usually modernistic pieces that the untrained eye just doesn’t understand besides the ridiculous costs? How do you know if the pieces in the museums were really painted by the listed artist or by a gifted forger?

The answer is provenance. Most of us trust the museum curators and the legendary auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s’s for authenticity. Could they be fooled? Yes, and they were. Big time. The provenance of a piece of art is the accompanying paperwork of who owned the art, it’s costs, and history.

Con man, John Drewe, managed one of the biggest swindles in art history. He found a destitute and talented artist, John Myatt, who desperately needed money for raising his two children alone. Drewe convinced Myatt to paint originals in the style of a particular artist, preferably in a modernistic style using whatever tools might have been utilized by the real artist of the time. Then Drewe managed to infiltrate the art world in such a way that he could forge the provenance of a painting. He then proceded to sell this usually unknown piece of work in the style of a particular artists marketing it as a previously forgotten work by a master.

The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano (Review #3)

The Girl She Used to Be Reviewed by Julie Moderson

The first thing I need to know is when is your next book coming out? This is the first novel by David Cristofano and he is going to be the award winner of many literary awards. I cannot believe this quality of work is from a first time writer. Congratulations on your first book and a winner in my mind of all kinds of awards.

Melody Grace McCartney at six was a darling little girl and her parents adored her. On an outing with her parents, designed to please Melody, the whole family witnessed a brutal murder. They fled the scene and were later tracked down by the FBI and persuaded to testify against the murderer. They were put into the Witness Protection Program. They lost everything including their home, jobs, position in the community, and friends. They just disappeared. Her parents were murdered when she was a teen and Melody feels responsible. Twenty years later Melody is still with the program and has never settled into a safe place. Imagine changing your name so often and relearning your new social security number. Think of what it is like to have someone else decide on your hair color and style and to have your hair colored since the age of six. You don’t even know the natural color of your hair.

Cheeseland by Randy Richardson

Cheeseland Reviewed by Patricia Reid

It is graduation time and Daniel McAllister’s parents have a big party planned but the guest of honor will not be attending. Daniel’s friend Lance Parker talks him into a road trip to Wisconsin to celebrate the end of high school. It was supposed to be three friends celebrating but Marty Torlikson, the third member of the group, had committed suicide. Daniel and Lance were still reeling from their friend’s funeral.

Against his better judgment, Daniel agrees to gas up his car known as “The Bomb” and the two head out of town with the music blasting. Somehow, the subject of Marty comes up and Lance reveals that he knows the reason behind Marty’s death and that he is responsible. Lance tells Marty a secret about Marty’s father and Marty could not cope with the knowledge. The two continue on their trip and get in one scrape after another but manage to keep going and even have a little fun as well as a whole lot of trouble. Eventually they meet Clinton G. Buckner, known as Buck. Buck turns out to be a real friend to the two although the true extent of his friendship isn’t revealed until later in the novel.

Daniel and Lance manage to finally make it back home and go on with their lives. The two connect again some years later after they both are married. Daniel is a successful attorney while Lance hasn’t met with much success. The secret revealed by Lance on their road trip has bothered both men over the years but more so with Lance than with Daniel. Lance’s marriage is on the rocks and his life is not going smooth. The story of the friends reconnecting and yet another road trip is told in the second part of the book.