Category Archives: Mystery

Running Blind (Jack Reacher) by Lee Child

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Running BlindJack Reacher at his best! Strangely enough it would seem that the traveling crime solver would be finished with his specialty. He just inherited a house from an old commanding officer of his who had taught him most of what Reacher knows about crime solving and living! It also turns out that after all the years they had worked together Reacher is now almost married to the old man’s daughter. But that may come later, who knows?

As usual however this story begins with a typical Reacher maneuver. He had just finished dinner at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan when he noticed two tough looking guys talking in a harsh way with the owner. They made some gestures that appeared to show they planned to do damage to his restaurant if he didn’t respond to them. Reacher talks to the owner and finds out the two are coming back in an hour to get his first payment for “security” from other gangs.

You Don’t Own Me (An Under Suspicion Novel) by Mary Higgins Clark

Reviewed by Allen Hott

You Don't Own MeThis is one in the series, Under Suspicion, written by Mary Higgins Clark and is a pretty good read overall. This is also my first read of any of Clark’s books.

Caroline Radcliffe is working as a nanny for Doctor Martin Bell and his wife, Kendra when she hears what she thinks to be fireworks being shot off outside as she watches over the two young Bell children. However as she goes out to check she finds the doctor shot to death in the driveway in his automobile.

Caroline runs into the house and tries to tell Kendra but Kendra is in one of her stupors or at least appears to be. Kendra has been suffering from some sort of postpartum depression for quite a while and she doesn’t always respond very quickly. The police are called and investigations are done but no one can be found to be responsible.

Five years later Kendra is doing much better and is taking care of the children with the help of Caroline. However the parents of Doctor Bell have never accepted the fact that (a) no one was found to be guilty and (b) they suspect Kendra of being involved plus they do not like having her take care of their grandchildren.

The Bell parents decide to contact Laurie Moran of a widely known television program called Under Suspicion. This program with Laurie and her staff do more in depth searching and investigating on cases that though worked on by law enforcement agencies they have never been solved. Laurie had looked into Martin Bell’s murder several years ago but really did not spend a lot of time with it nor did she find out anything of significant value. However now with the pressure of the Bells she agrees to take another in depth look at the situation.

Strong As Steel (Caitlin Strong Novels) by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Strong As SteelThe tenth time is clearly the charm for the in dominatable Jon Land whose decennial effort in his Caitlin Strong series, Strong as Steel, cements his Texas Ranger’s status as the best female protagonist in thriller fiction today and maybe ever.

The high-octane plot features the classic thriller staple of a long buried, and of course deadly, secret being unearthed, this time from the Texas desert. Caitlin’s father Jim Strong, apparently, was somehow involved in burying three shipping crates there twenty-five years before as part of a case he was working on. Indeed, a particular staple of this series is the seamless intermixing of the past and the present, with Caitlin picking up on a trail left by one of her ancestors. It was William Faulkner who said, “The past isn’t dead, it’s not even past.” Well, nothing describes Strong as Steel better than that, with “dead” being the operative word.

But Caitlin isn’t the only one on the trail of the contents of those three crates; far from it, in fact. Hot on their trail, and hers, is Molinari, an especially maniacal head of an especially fanatical band of religious zealots out to safeguard a two-thousand-year-old secret at all costs. Being once set ablaze by his enemies has left Molinari almost literally faceless and he has long pursued his quest with a degree of violence and rage befitting the grotesque he’s become.

Edge: A Novel by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

EdgeQuite a bit of a different story overall and pretty good except that Corte, the hero, seems to be overly involved with game playing. And mostly board games as he is constantly referring to them or how they are played while he goes about his business.

Corte’s business is working as a undercover federal agent as a shepherd or guard over people who have been targeted by lifters. Lifters are criminals who hunt down (for a price) individuals, who one way or another, have become knowledgeable about a person’s indiscretions. The particular lifter in Edge is a gentleman named Henry Loving and Corte has seen how he works. Loving had recently killed Corte’s buddy and co-worker after using inhumane torture on the man.

Now it appears that Loving is after a D.C. cop named Ryan Kessler and it is up to Corte to protect Kessler and his family. This means he will take them often from one safe house to another and all the while protecting them and their whereabouts from Loving.

In Her Bones: A Novel by Kate Moretti

Reviewed by Allen Hott

In Her BonesThis is a very different book. Edie Beckett, the daughter of Lilith Wade, has a hard time understanding and accepting her mother’s killing instincts. Supposedly Lilith has killed as many as five different women and possibly more. She is now in prison on death row and Edie’s brain seems to be deteriorating every day because of the whole situation.

Edie can’t seem to get enough of the families that have been hurt by her mother’s actions. However as she begins getting closer to them (under pretenses of course) she discovers many things.

In most cases Edie pretty well stays away from too close a contact because she doesn’t want them to know who she is. She actually becomes so infatuated however with one of the men that she meets up with him and things go very far.

Other than that one Edie does seem to just hover in the background scoping the families out. And all the time Edie’s own brain appears to be getting more and more confused. She begins having problems staying in touch with her own brother with whom she has been very close her whole life.

Not too unusual is the breakup, however, as her brother is also having many problems with his own thinking and behaving. The two of them do remain somewhat close, in a strange way, up to the end when everything appears to be falling apart between them.

That breakup at first seems to be really bothering Edie but she not only moves on pretty much on her own but she seems to almost be getting better in some of her actions.

However when she does hook up with that one man from her mother’s past everything seems to not fall apart but actually blow up. And none of it is good for Edie.

Quite a book overall, that I attempted several times to put down and quit reading. Mainly because of all the different characters who kept popping up. Not only did they seem to appear for no reason but they also did not seem to fit in the part of the story where they appeared.

I am not sure that I would recommend this one but also not sure that I would degrade it. So much of it turned out very well in the end but it seems like there were lots of problems getting to that place. Give it a good read (don’t quit on it) and see what your thoughts are!

Stay Hidden A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) by Paul Doiron

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Stay HiddenMike Bowditch, the Maine Warden Investigator, is out on his first case as an investigator. He has been a Maine Game Warden for some time but just recently earned this promotion. And it appears from the way he handled his first case in his new job his supervisors may not be overly thrilled with his work. However overall when they sit down with him and others involved I believe they will end up realizing he did a very good job based on all of the circumstances.

A very well-known controversial author, Ariel Evans, has been shot to death by a hunter on Maquoit Island. That is a very remote island off the coast of Maine with a very sparse population and is known somewhat by some battles between several factions on the island. It is also known as a spot for drug usage, sales, and people associated with the whole drug mess.

However when Mike arrives on the island he finds out a lot of different things that neither he nor his superiors were aware of. To begin with there are definitely two factions. But the ones mainly supposedly connected with the drug business are pretty well off on their own. The rest of the inhabitants seem to be getting along pretty well together under the guidance or “rule” of Harmon Reed. Harmon Reed is the harbormaster, first assessor, chairman of the planning board, and pretty much dictates what goes on in their faction of the island.

A Casualty of War: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Teri Davis

A Casualty of WarThere are certain authors that you just can’t wait to read their next books. Charles Todd is one of those that many people who enjoy authentic historical fiction feel anxious in waiting for the next book. Personally, I feel that Todd truly seizes your mind immersing you in the World War I battlefield with the nurse, Bess Crawford. There is no male or female preference, just dumping you onto the war torn areas so much that you can smell it.

World War I, was coming to an end and for nurse Bess Crawford returning home is now within her future. While waiting for the transport, she chats with others and happens to meet a memorable soul, Captain Alan Travis, He is a wealthy Englishman from a prestigious family who have made money in Barbados.

Surprisingly, while is still working near the Frontlines, Bess finds again that one her patients as Captain Travis. While he is injured this time, he claims that his cousin, James Travis attempted to kill him. She agrees to investigate only to find nothing about this Lieutenant Travis. She does wonder if his possible concussion confused him and whether the Lieutenant even exists.
A while later, Bess meets Captain Travis for the third time. He again claims that his cousin attempted to kill him. He is badly wounded this time. Whether Bess believes it or not, someone did shoot at him.

Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel) by Sarah Paretsky

Reviewed by Allen Hott

HardballThis is quite a story. V.I. Warshawski (known as Vi) is a private detective who is asked to find out what happened to Lamont Gadsden by his aunt. Lamont has been missing for over 40 years. Though his own mother has no hope or desire to find out where or if Lamont is alive, his aunt “hires” Vi to do some searching.

Having worked for the police department and being the daughter of a deceased police officer, Vi does have the ability to do some very extensive searching. Her searching is not restricted to the Chicago Police Department but because of private investigating she is able to get into many areas to delve for information.

Many things happen to Vi though as she begins looking and most of them are pretty scary. There are also people killed and in so of these cases Vi feels it has occurred because of her investigation.

Further clouding up the picture is the arrival in town of her young cousin, Petra, who moved up from Kansas City to be closer to her father, Peter. As the story grows more and more involved it appears that somehow even Peter has some knowledge of the missing Lamont. And Petra, who really admires Vi, gets more and more involved in the whole picture.

The Otter of Death (Gunn Zoo Series) by Betty Webb

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Otter of DeathTheodora “Teddy” Bentley loves her work as a Zookeeper. It always provides variety even with boring tasks. While completing the annual “otter count” at Gunn Landing Harbor in California, Teddy discovers her favorite otter, Maureen is holding a smartphone. You think of the possible fun in getting a phone away from an otter.

When Teddy actual examines the phone, she finds that the camera had been in use recently capturing a crime in action, a murder.

The phone belongs to Dr. Stuart Booth, part of the otter census crew and a marine biology instructor. Stuart in not known for his good behavior, but has a tendency to sexually harass his female students who idolize him, at least for a while.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Teddy’s fiancé is Sheriff Joe Rejas. He is handsome, hunky and doesn’t like Teddy nosing into his business.

So what is Teddy to do when her friend, Lila, an accuser of Booth’s conduct, is arrested for his murder?

Dead Man Switch by Matthew Quirk

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Dead Man SwitchWithout a doubt there is plenty of action in this one. John Hayes is a retired special ops agent for the U.S. government but it seems that he and many former ops agents never retire. They claim to do so and the government claims they are gone but they continue to operate under cover. No one except a few at the very top of the U.S. security system knows how it all works.

This story starts as Hayes is working undercover amongst some Pakistani undercover agents when several U.S. special ops agents are caught by the Pakistani group. One of the special ops agents recognizes Hayes who actually pretends as though he is going to kill the agents. But instead Hayes turns on the Pakistanis and poof the U.S. guys kind of get away. Well, not exactly as the two agents are both pretty well beaten up in their escape. Hayes is even covered by a snow drift caused by the rescuing helicopter’s downdraft.

Hayes is pretty well frozen when he himself is rescued by his boss who pulled all stops to find him and get him back to the U.S. He is supposed to go back into retirement officially but since he is and has always been undercover he is still on call to the top dogs in Washington.