Category Archives: Mystery

Storm Front (A Virgil Flowers Novel) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Storm FrontVirgil Flowers, the Minnesota state special agent, is really wrapped up in this one. It starts with an archeologist from the U.S. who is working on a special dig in the Mediterranean coastal region. The region is famous as being a historic religious are that was frequented by Hebrews, Muslims, and many other groups around the time of Moses and other famous people of that time and era.

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The American guy (not from birth as his ancestry is deeply entwined in this area) decides when the group of archeologists discover a supposedly very famous stele or rock that perhaps he should take it back to the states for its monetary value. No the others don’t know his plans but find out about the adventure once he has fled the country with the rock. His plan is to auction it to the highest bidder and use the monies for providing for his wife who is institutionalized for dementia or Alzheimer’s. He knows that he is dying of cancer and is worried about how she can survive without him.

Wilde Lake: A Novel by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

Wilde LakeThe Brant family are like Royalty in Columbia, Maryland in the early 1970’s. Andrew Jackson Brant is a state attorney who became “famous” when he tried a murder case and won without the presence of a body. He is raising two children on his own in the newly formed town of Columbia on Wilde Lake. His son AJ was eight when his daughter Luisa (Lu) was born and seven days later his wife Adele died. He relies on his housekeeper, Teensy, to perform the role of mother and homemaker.

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AJ Brant is a shining light in his high school. When he was eighteen there was an accident on the night he graduated from high school. He escaped with a broken arm, but another man lost his life. Was he innocent or guilty? Did his father’s name save him and his friends from further inquiry?

We fast forward to 2015 and Lu Brant has just been elected the first female state’s attorney of Howard County Maryland. She has recently been widowed with twins to care for. Lu returns home to Wilde Lake in Columbia to live with her father and Teensy who help care for the twins while she works. Her first case as state attorney is a murder where a woman is beaten to death in her apartment and a homeless man is accused. There are few murders in Hamilton County and Lou is eager to show her worth and prosecute him.

A Cast of Vultures A Mystery (Sam Clair) by Judith Flanders

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

A Cast of VulturesA vacant house in Sam’s neighborhood burns in what is at first considered an act of arson. When a body, presumed to be the arsonist, is found inside, the emphasis of the investigation turns to an arson gone wrong. However, Sam, and pretty much everyone else in the neighborhood knows the supposedly vacant house was in fact inhabited by several squatters who were well known and well liked by the neighbors. So when the body is identified and the police realize the man was acquainted with the squatters, their investigation shifts to include a harder look at those people.

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In a second plot thread, Sam is asked by a friend to help her find out where her neighbor has gone. He seemingly disappeared without taking anything with him. When the friend suggests a way they could break into his apartment to look for any clues, Sam is hesitant knowing her boyfriend Jake, a police officer, is not going to be pleased if he finds out. But when she weighs out the pros and cons of helping, she realizes if the missing person was her neighbor she would absolutely break in tho the apartment. I liked that the author gave readers the chance to see Sam reason this action out rather than just rushing blindly into a situation that most probably will lead to trouble.

Elementary, She Read: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Elementary She ReadIn Elementary She Read, author Delany introduces quite and interesting set of characters along with a new twist on mysteries set in bookshops. While Gemma Doyle is the protagonist of this new series, the history behind the story begins when Gemma’s Great Uncle Arthur seized the opportunity to buy a building at the famous address of 222 Baker Street.- though this Baker Street is located in West London, Massachusetts rather than London, England. With such a well known address, it was a given that her mystery loving uncle would open a Sherlock Holmes bookstore. When he found a bookstore alone wouldn’t make it, he expanded to include any and all things pertaining to Sherlock Holmes. Along the way, the opportunity arose to open a tea shop, named appropriately Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, next door but connected by an internal door. That shop is run by Gemma’s good friend Jayne. That is the story behind the story.

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In a nutshell, the main plot of Elementary She Read is this. The store is swamped one afternoon by a traveling bridge group, and while tidying the store after the group has left, Gemma finds an old Strand magazine that is not part of the store’s inventory hidden among the other magazines. Curious as to how it came to be there, she thinks back over the people who had just left the store and remembers one lady who was carrying a plain white plastic shopping bag that did not appear to be part of the group. She searches the store, finds the bag the woman was carrying and in it found a clue as to where the woman might be staying. Puzzled as to why the woman left what could well be a valuable magazine in the store, she puts the magazine to her home safe and sets off to find the woman. From there the plot follows a familiar path of amateur sleuths. Gemma tries to do the right thing and ends up finding a dead body or two and lands in the middle of a police investigation as a prime suspect. Eager to clear her name she starts snooping around trying to solve the murder, as well as unravel the original mystery as to why the magazine was placed in her store. The plot is well done with plenty of twists to keep readers on their toes. When the solution was finally revealed, I have to say I had figured out that the guilty person was involved but had not worked out how or why. I felt like Delany played fair with the readers by giving them clues to follow yet making the puzzle complicated enough to keep us working at it.

Inherit the Bones: A Mystery (Detective Gemma Monroe Novels) by Emily Littlejohn

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Inherit the BonesDetective Gemma Monroe is six months pregnant and her boyfriend is in Alaska on business leaving her alone, uncomfortable and as it turns out, in the middle of one of the biggest cases to hit Cedar Valley, Colorado in a very long time. She is called to the scene of a brutal murder at the traveling circus, where a circus clown has literally had his throat ripped open. Before long, it becomes apparent that the victim is not who the circus thought he was and that he might have been killed because of secrets he knew about a forty year old unsolved murder in Cedar Valley. As Gemma investigates the clown’s murder, she is drawn deeper into the forty year old mystery of the disappearance of two boys. In an odd twist of fate, Gemma and her boyfriend were the people who found the long buried bodies of the boys just a few years ago.

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This is without a doubt, one of the most skillfully written books I have read in a long time. The writing is so good that the story flows smoothly along making the twists even more jarring. The plot takes several interesting turns during Gemma’s investigation making it a difficult book to put down.
As for characters, Gemma is fairly complete for the reader. I’m sure in future books we will learn more about her and her past, but readers are left feeling they “know” Gemma. The supporting characters were interesting and enough of their personality was given to let us see them as people.

Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Unlucky 13If you have not read James Patterson any of his Women’s Murder Club stories this would be a good start. Unlucky 13 is one of those so you do have the assortment of professional women who make up this club. Lindsay Boxer, a San Francisco detective, is somewhat the main lead in this one but as usual her fellow members play significant parts along the way.

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And as usual Patterson has more than one plot going on as he normally does. The main one here is probably where Lindsay and her partner are trying to find who is planting some type of edible capsule in hamburger meat. It starts when a couple is found dead in their car and the middle of their bodies have actually been blown apart. Tests show some type of high explosive that is set off by gastric juices. In this case it has been encapsulated in a very minute fashion and then planted in hamburger meat.

Reckless Creed (A Ryder Creed Novel Book 3) by Alex Kava

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Reckless CreedRyder Creed is called in to assist the sheriff in locating a missing girl. What they find is her body seemingly staged in the water with r rocks in her pockets. The sheriff assumes her death is a suicide. At the scene, Creed’s dog finds a couple of dead birds and because his dog had one of the birds in her mouth, he sends the birds to be tested. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Maggie O’Dell, an FBI profiler, has been called in to consult on a different death also initially believed to be a suicide. A man is found face down on the sidewalk after having jumped or fallen from his hotel balcony. He left behind a completely sanitized room except for massive amounts of blood spray. In yet another odd happening, hundreds of dying birds fall from the sky and hundreds of dead snow geese are found dead on a Nebraska lake that is a migratory stop. While reports of such massive die-offs of birds are not unheard of, it has authorities concerned. Also troubling, the autopsies of the girl in the South and the man in Chicago reveal that both were quite ill with a flu like infection.

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The two deaths and the dead bird plots twist and turn as their connection to each other becomes clearer. Along the way, readers find that O’Dell suspects a researcher who was presumed dead after a mudslide destroyed her lab may not be dead, and in fact may be behind the mysterious happenings. A young girl, alone and sick in New York City happens to see the news report about the dead birds in Nebraska and contacts the biologist who was interviewed. Through the young woman, the larger plot comes to light.

Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta Mysteries) by Patricia Cornwell (Review #2)

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Depraved HeartHaving previously read most of Cornwell’s books, I was eager to read this one. Dr. Kay Scarpetta is back in another gripping thriller. This book begins with Scarpetta working the scene of a suspicious death when she receives an emergency alert on her phone. The alert is a video link and appears to come from her niece, Lucy, a computer genius and an FBI agent. The video is strange in that it is surveillance of Lucy from about twenty years ago.

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As Scarpetta watches the video, she learns scary secrets about her niece which imply dangerous and illegal implications. It appears as if the videos were sent by Lucy, but she later learns that this isn’t the case. The links have actually been sent by Carrie Grethen, an enemy of Kay and her family. She is left confused, worried and scared for Lucy and has no idea who she can turn to and trust with the information. She races to Lucy’s house to find answers, but only finds more questions. The FBI is at Lucy’s house with a search warrant and answers must be found before Lucy is arrested.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye (A Harry Bosch Novel) by Michael Connelly

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Wrong Side of GoodbyeHarry Bosch, one of Connelly’s (and my) favorites is back. The retired police detective cannot stay out of the mix when it comes to hunting for bad guys or as in this story just plain hunting.

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Harry is working as an extra for the San Fernando Police Department. It isn’t full time and he doesn’t really get paid much but it keeps him busy and happy. He still pursues other cases as a private investigator.

And in that position this time he really gets a boomer! A very, very rich old gentleman, Whitney Vance, contacts Harry and pays him ten thousand dollars to find a possible missing heir. Vance owns/runs one of the largest businesses in California and supposedly has no potential heirs that are related to him. But he believes that he might and he wants to find out. He impregnated a Mexican girl when he was young and his parents would not allow him to have anything to do with her. Vance was forced to move away and go to a different school and as far as he knew his father somehow managed to send her away perhaps to Mexico.

The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

The Body in the WardrobeFaith Fairchild, New Englander, mother, caterer, minister’s wife, and part-time sleuth is drawn into this new mystery by Katherine Hall Page. Her friend Sophie Maxwell has moved to Savannah, Georgia to be with her new husband, Will. While Will is away in Atlanta often for his job as a private investigator, Sophie is left at home to set up house for them in Savannah and become assimilated into his large, southern family. At the same time, Faith has her own worries. Her daughter is being bullied by girls at her new school, and her husband is considering a move to a new church to minister in a new city.

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Faith and Sophie are in contact often via telephone. Each is trying to help the other with all the changes that are happening in their lives. One night, when Will is away on one of his long trips to Atlanta, Sophie stumbles across a dead body in the wardrobe. She runs to call the police, who respond very quickly. When they arrive, the body has disappeared from the wardrobe. Sophie insists that she saw the body, but with no evidence to prove it, the police justifiably assume she imagined it. She’s alone in a big house, a good reason to become spooked.