Wednesday, July 25, 2007

REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES by Vincent H. O'Neil (Thomas Dunne Books)

Winning the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest may turn suspense and thriller readers away from O'Neil's works, but they'll be missing a bang-up read! O'Neil proves that gratuitous sex and foul language aren't essential to a compelling thriller. Frank Cole is facing bankruptcy after his high-tech business failed. He's living under the radar in Florida, working as a taxi dispatcher at night and a computer fact checker by day. When a young boy who flagged down a Midnight Taxi near a hotel drug bust disappears, things start happening fast and Frank's visitor list explodes—from a sexy teenage girl to a couple of thugs to a private investigator to the godfather of the Southern mafia. Cole is definitely a sleuth who uses his brain. I look forward to visiting the Florida Panhandle again--from the comfort of my easy chair.

THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER by Shirley Tallman (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Sarah Woolson faces a severe challenge. 19th century San Francisco simply isn't ready to embrace a female attorney. Her brother faces a totally different challenge: The son of a well-to-do judge has to keep his occupation secret—he's an investigative journalist writing under a pseudonym. When Sarah attends a seancé to gather information for a story for Samuel, she gets more than either of them had planned. A murder at the spooky Cliff House not only brings clients to her law practice, but repercussions from the crime involve their family in political scandal. Tallman brings a different outlook to a familiar 19th century theme. I look forward to more visits with Sarah Woolson.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MURDER ON THE MENU by Miranda Bliss (Berkley)

The "cooking class" mysteries are fun, light, well-plotted reads for culinary lovers. Nose-to-the-grindstone Annie and drop-dead-gorgeous Eve make a great pair of amateur detectives as they join forces to help their former cooking school teacher make a go of his new restaurant. In this second outing, the two discover a body which the police assume is suicide. The friends, however, believe differently, and set out to prove it. Washington politics, tempting restaurant fare, and a well-plotted mystery make this paperback original essential in beach bags and travel carry-ons. There's an added bonus: recipes for a full-course gourmet meal are included at the back.

SAFE AND SOUND by J. D. Rhoades (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Bounty hunter Jack Keller is totally goal oriented. While this dedication makes him the best in the business, it frequently interferes with his personal relationships. A missing child—the daughter of an AWOL member of the Army's Delta Force—claims his focus as strongly as a bail jumper. The resulting chase leads him to the mountains of North Carolina and into combat with hit men worthy of 007. Body count is high, but psychological damage may be even higher, not only for Keller, but for those closest to him. If you think you're having a bad day, spending a few hours with Jack Keller will make you reconsider. Don't start this book at bedtime!