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Category Archives: Mystery

Steep Price (The Tracy Crosswhite Series) by Robert Dugoni

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Steep Price. Tracy Crosswhite, an accomplished homicide detective in the Seattle P.D., is facing a major life, change in less than a year: the birth of her first child. In the meantime, two major cases are one her plate. The first is the death of a promising young Indian woman, Kavita Mukherjee, whose roommate, Avita, has just broken the news that during her trip home to India, she had gotten married to a suitor arranged by her parents. Kavita disappeared shortly afterwards. The second case being handled by the “A” Team is the fatal shooting of a community activist in a part of Seattle known for its high crime rate. At the same time, Tracy is dealing with her pregnancy no longer being a secret and the sudden reassignment to the “C” team of a seasoned detective in favor of a novice Hispanic woman who seemingly appeared from nowhere. Tracy is determined to see both cases solved and it will take all the team’s skills to solve both cases.

Bad Luck and Trouble (Jack Reacher, No. 11) by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Bad Luck and TroubleA somewhat different concept for Jack Reacher (one of Lee Child’s favorite cop-type folks). Usually Reacher pretty much works alone as he travels the country with no changes of clothes, a travel toothbrush, and little cash but he normally does have his bank info so he can get cash if need be.

He really is in luck this time however as he now has an ATM card but he is completely startled when upon making a withdrawal request he finds he has much more cash than normal in his account. The deposit of $1030 means to Reacher and his MP associates that someone is in trouble. In military jargon 1030 means someone needs help. The deposit was in fact made by Frances Neagley, who had worked with him for over ten years in his army career. She was brilliant, resourceful, tough, and a true right hand to him in his position.

Reacher knows that something is wrong but as he tries tracking her down in Chicago where she used to work he finds that she is currently in LA doing some type of work-related activity. He immediately heads for LA knowing that he can track her down. When he does she tells him that one of their group is not only dead but was thrown from an airplane. The man, Calvin Franz, was one of Reacher’s closest friends in the service. And now Neagley planned to find out who killed him and she knew Reacher would also want that satisfaction.

Reacher had been in charge of a small group of ranger-type investigators of which Neagley was one. On hearing of how Franz died she felt the other eight members of the group should be brought together and do the same type of work they used to do and not only find the killers but the reasons for the murder.

The Fallen (Memory Man series) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The FallenAmos Decker, the Memory Man, is back in a new story but using many of his previous attributes as he goes about solving crimes. In this one, however, he does have some different kinds of problems with his fabulous memory. If you have read any of Amos’s previous stories you know he has a fantastic memory and though it gives him problems at times it is usually a great tool for an FBI agent to have.

This time he and Alex Jamison, his FBI partner, take a vacation to a small rust-belt town called Baronville to visit Alex’s sister’s family. While there they not only discover there are some major problems in the small town but invariably they get involved in working out some of the problems. It seems as though at one time a guy named Baron owned the town and was unliked by most residents. He supposedly left a fortune somewhere when he died but no one has ever been able to find it.

Now his last descendant lives in the old dilapidated mansion and he too is unliked by most everyone as they feel (a) he is a Baron which is reason enough to hate him and (b) he may know where the fortune is hidden.

The Last Stand by Mickey Spillane

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Having been a Mickey Spillane fan back in the 40s and 50s I was looking forward to The Last Stand when I read about how the manuscript supposedly was found in good condition and ready to be published. I feel certain that there was some work done to it by Max Collins who wrote the introduction.

Overall the book is pretty good but not exactly what I expected. To begin with it is in fact two separate stories. The first one, A Bullet for Satisfaction, is a Spillane type and basically centers around a police officer, Captain Dexter, who is heading up an investigation into the killing of a major political figure. Dexter and his partner, Fred Jenkins, begin digging into the case and find several attorneys who are politically active seem to have had some encounters with Mayes Rogers, the murdered politician.

The Gate Keeper An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries)by Charles Todd (Review #2)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Gate KeeperInspector Ian Rutledge is a troubled man. He remains haunted by his experiences in the war and it is starting to impact both his personal and professional lives. While on a solo drive in rural England after his sister’s wedding, Rutledge nearly hits a car stopped in the middle of the road. To his surprise, there is a young woman standing by a man’s body, her hand’s covered in blood. Despite appearances, she is adamant about her innocence, leaving Rutledge uncertain as to what to do next. It turns out that the deceased individual is from the village of Wolf Pit and by all accounts is very well liked by nearly everyone in Wolf Pit. Despite being something of a witness to the crime, Rutledge is given approval by the Yard to lead the investigation, which heats up when a second murder occurs and then a third. In order to solve these crimes, Rutledge must pry into the past of the original victim to determine what the common thread is before the killer strikes again.

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Rooster BarWriting about young law students or those just recently admitted to the bar has always been a good stomping ground for Grisham. And The Rooster Bar really fills the bill!

A group of law students attending Foggy Bottom Law School basically get together on several evening meetings and begin discussing the Foggy Bottom Law School. One of them especially has been looking into some strange things about the school as far as placement of graduates and also failure rates etc. He is determined that something is not right so he tells his two buddies and his girlfriend that he is putting together a study to either prove or disprove his theory.

Basically he finds in his studies that the bulk of the lower rated law schools, such as Foggy Bottom, not only produce fewer top graduates. But also strangely enough many of these lower rated schools appear to be owned by a group of industrialists who would not appear to have any interest particularly in further education and definitely not in law degrees. No one takes his findings too seriously but he continues with his theories.

Noir by Christopher Moore

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

NoirFirst things first, I love the cover of this book! Do you ever pick a book because of the cover? I do and I would grab this one in a heart beat. The pin up girl in bright red and the two men in black suits and fedoras screams 1947. The golden gate bridge is also displayed lending a hint to the setting of the story. There is a snake and a green three fingered hand resting on the title that adds a bit of mystery to the overall design. This is cover love at it’s finest.

In the summer of 1947, San Francisco is changing. The war is over and work is hard to come by. Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin is a bartender at a seedy gin joint when one night a dame named Stilton, aka the Cheese, walks in and Sammy falls hard. They spend time together and enjoy some razzmatazz until one night the Cheese goes missing. Sammy sets out to rescue her and save her from the two mugs in black suits. However, what he finds he never expected. With a colorful cast of characters and bountiful twists and turns down dark alley’s, we are off on an adventure.

Illegal Holdings (A Valentin Vemeulen Thriller) by Michael Niemann

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Illegal HoldingsGlobal Alternatives is an NGO funding agricultural improvements in Mozambique by a small charity named Nossa Terra. Trouble brews when a nearly 5 million dollar outlay from Global is suddenly nowhere to be found. Nossa Terra insists they never the full amount, while Global claims the opposite. Since the original source of the funds is the United Nations, the Secretary General sends in veteran investigator Valentin Vermeulen to determine what happened to the money. It isn’t long before Vermeulen realizes that Nossa Terra is correct and that something very irregular is happening. As Vermeulen doggedly pursues the truth, he becomes the target of someone who doesn’t want Vermeulen to succeed and will try to stop him at any cost.

Illegal Holdings by Michael Niemann is the third book in the Valentin Vermeulen series and the first one that I have read. Niemann is a new author for me and one that I will be returning ­ to in order to read his other books. I believe that this new series has great potential because Niemann draws on his real life experiences, both as a child in Germany and in academia from his work on South Africa. This allows him to create characters and plots that are both engaging and realistic. I look forward to future books in this series and give this one 4/5 stars.

*A copy of this book was the only consideration given in exchange for this review.*

The Gate Keeper: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Gate KeeperThe Gate Keeper opens with Inspector Rutledge’s controlled life about to be upset as his sister has married and is off on her honeymoon. Following the ceremony, Rutledge starts home but decides to go for a short drive to sort out his feelings on his life with his sister now married. The drive turns out to take him quite a distance from London and ends with him coming across a woman standing over a body lying in the middle of the road. Rutledge stops to help and doesn’t quite know what to make of her story that a man stepped out in front of their car. Her companion got out to ask what the fellow needed and was shot. The man in the road then vanished. Although the woman is visibly upset, he sends her in his car into town to get the constable while he stays with the body and their car. The constable comes and takes over the crime scene and sends Rutledge and the woman on their way. Rutledge books a room at the inn in town. The next morning he goes to see how the woman is and after hearing from her and speaking with the constable, urges him to request Scotland Yard be called in. He then calls his boss and arranges to be assigned to the case.

There are so many layers to this story that putting the book down was really hard. The victim was Stephen Wentworth, a wealthy man who ran the local bookstore. Simple enough except that his wealth came not from his own family as such, but from an aunt who provided for him when it became clear his parents would not. Digging into the victim’s past, he finds that people who knew Wentworth found him to be quiet, serious and as good of man as there is. Everyone felt that way except it seems his family. It became clear that Stephen’s own mother despised him and had gone out if her way to not only cut him out of their family, but to make his life as unpleasant as possible. On top of this, there is a second murder in the community of another quiet, well liked gentleman who had only the occasional contact with the bookseller. Yet it seems clear the tow murders are related. There are mysteries in Wentworth’s past that add some additional intrigue as well as the elaborately carved pieces of wood in the shape of animals that were left near each victim.

Quicksand (Eve Duncan) by Iris Johansen

Reviewed by Allen Hott

QuicksandEve Duncan is still trying to find the person who killed her young daughter, Bonnie, years ago. And because it is still causing her some mental problems it is also bothering her forever lover, Joe Quinn. Joe and Eve had gotten the names of three potentials that seem to fit in as possible killers of Bonnie from a gentleman named Montalvo that had used Eve to do a forensic sculpting. Montalvo works in Columbia as a detective type in the military.

Joe, who is a former Navy seal and nationally known Atlantic detective, receives word from the sheriff of Bloomburg, Illinois that Henry Kistle, a fugitive and one of Joe’s three potentials is in Bloomburg. Joe takes off immediately for Kistle’s location but before he gets there Kistle somehow is able to capture and kill the sheriff.

And then Eve receives a phone call that begins with, “Do you still miss your little Bonnie?” The call comes from the sheriff’s phone. She knows right away that someone is aware of what happened to Bonnie and Eve immediately assumes it is the killer. While talking with Eve he admits to killing the sheriff and also admits his name is Henry Kistle.

Kistle does take off and is quickly being hunted in the woods outside of Bloomburg when both Joe and Montalvo with his aide get word from the local sheriff that they have tracked him that far. However even with all their accumulated forces they are unable to get him and he also kills the sheriff’s chief deputy.

When it appears he is still in the woods, Eve flies also to Bloomburg to be of any help that she can. However as part of the story it turns out that Montalvo has developed some sort of a crush on Eve and although she is fighting it she also has developed feelings for him. Her feelings however do not replace her feelings for Joe. What she feels for Montalvo (at least she believes) are because of his extreme care for her loss of Bonnie which Joe has never been able to develop.

From here Johansen has built an interesting story as the entire group of Eve, Joe, Montalvo, and his top aide join forces with legal forces chasing Kistle. Kistle makes many of the moves you would expect in a story of this type as he continues to not only run and hide but also he kidnaps a young girl. He knows that this will really get to Eve so he constantly phones her to tell her where he and the kidnapped youngster are.

If you read Johannsen’s stories about Eve Duncan you know that she is mentally upset and has been for years not only over the loss of Bonnie but also the fact that she has never been able to catch the killer. She never gets much help from Joe in this problem because he never knew Bonnie and isn’t overly sympathetic to past occurrences.

Will Montalvo’s caring cause a split with Eve and Joe? Will they finally catch Kistle? The only way to find out these answers is to read Quicksand. You will not regret doing just that!