Thursday, May 22, 2008

DeKOK AND MURDER ON BLOOD MOUNTAIN by A. C. Baantjer (Speck Press)

When attending a funeral, Amsterdam Inspector DeKok sees a man at the cemetery who is supposed to have been dead for some time (it's not the guest of honor at the funeral!). Vledder, his young partner and friend thinks the gray sleuth is mistaken, but hearing reports of sightings of other presumed dead men, DeKok's certainty is confirmed. The subsequent investigation leads the two policemen to the notorious Bloedberg (Blood Mountain) area of Antwerp. Can it be that a religious order is connected to the reappearance of the dead?

Count me among the fans of the most widely read author in the Netherlands. Baantjer and DeKok are great!

Monday, May 12, 2008

HOLY MOLY by Ben Rehder (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Pick a controversial subject and Ben Rehder will lampoon it, all the while making those in each camp think he's making light of the other side. In his follow-up to Edgar finalist GUN SHY, Rehder takes on television evangelists, conservationists, and academia. The setting once again is Blanco County, Texas and the wild and wacky cast includes Game Warden John Marlin, Sheriff Bobby Garza, and everybody's favorite good ol' boys Red O'Brien and Billy Don Craddock.

The trouble begins when backhoe operator Hollis Farley unearths a dinosaur bone while excavating for construction of "Pastor Pete" Boothe's new megachurch on the banks of the Pedernales River. Murder, mayhem, and mirth leave just enough room for romance—John and Nicole Brooks are planning a wedding, and you'll never believe who else gets lucky.

I started this series late, but I can't wait to get to Texas next week and pick up the earlier books in the series. Y'all have fun now!

THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB by Meg Gardiner (Dutton)

During a San Francisco earthquake two members of a secret club enact a stunt that becomes the beginning of disaster. Soon afterwards, police lieutenant Amy Tang calls forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett to a wreck to determine whether it was accident or suicide. Tang's concern is that similar events have ben recurring in 48-hour increments. The two women work frantically to determine who, why—and who's next. Jo's work is intensified when she becomes personally involved, both physically and emotionally.

Gardiner plays totally fair with the reader—the clues are there—but the twists are hidden. Fortunately, I began this one on Sunday afternoon, with plenty of time to reach the riveting climax before bedtime.

HOW TO WRITE KILLER HISTORICAL MYSTERIES by Kathy Lynn Emerson (Perseverance Press)

I knew Kathy was writing this book and I knew it would be good; but, I didn't know it would be THIS good! Kathy Emerson writes cracker-jack historical mysteries (two series), and she's sharing all her secrets in this short primer. Just glancing through the table of contents would help a novice writer avoid dangerous pitfalls—but the glancer would miss wonderful tidbits of information from some of the most widely-read historical mystery writers. Emerson doesn't limit her suggestions to her own; she's solicited input from writers, booksellers, reviewers, and readers. Her points are valid from multiple views.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is considering writing mysteries (whether historical or not) or historicals (whether mysteries or not).

COUNT TO TEN by Karen Rose (Grand Central Publishing)

I don't usually review books by bestselling authors--I figure they're too easy to find, but Rose's publicist did a good job of follow-up with me, so I promised to read this one and give it a chance. Boy, I'm glad I did!

Arson investigator Lt. Reed Solliday isn't too happy with being teamed with brash, bossy Det. Mia Mitchell, but the rash of house fires has just accelerated into homicide. There's an obvious thread among the crimes, and Sully and Mia must define it before they can identify the perp. Even as the two make headway on their investigations (and their relationship) the crimes become more violent—and personal.

Rose really knows how to plot a page-turner! You'll find yourself looking over your shoulder as you read by the midnight oil.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

THE MERCY OAK by Kathryn Wall (St. Martin's Minotaur)

I knew my cousin Ann Schafran was a big fan of Kathryn Wall, so I asked her to review this one for you. Here's her assessment:

Spring is my favorite time of the year. I love it because the long dark days of winter are gone, trees and flowers begin to bloom and leaf, and Kathryn Wall publishes another Bay Tanner mystery. Since reading her first book, I have become addicted. I love the thrill of the mystery and the way she weaves two or more into her books. I also lover Hilton Head Island, so I thoroughly enjoy reading about places I know and enjoy visiting.

In this outing, Bay is faced with a mystery that has touched very close to home—her very much loved housekeeper and her family are involved. While trying to find out what happened in a hit and run, Bay deals with an immigration problem, several holdups, the disappearance of her housekeeper and her family and even finds herself in danger along with her father’s longtime housekeeper Lavinia.

She has also found a stronger liking for Red, the deputy sheriff and the brother of her deceased husband. By the end of the book, all problems have been solved to the satisfaction of the reader; and, Bay, along with the Sheriff’s Department has solved the crimes.