I’ve read perhaps 2/3 of Barbara Hambly’s fantasies and her early Roman empire mystery Search the Seven Hills (long out-of-print for some reason, but we see used copies every once in a while), and I’ve enjoyed all of them. But it took quite a while for me to get around to her extremely popular mystery series that begins with A Free Man of Color ($7.50).
Benjamin January is a free man of color who studied music and medicine in New Orleans, helped fight against the British in the Battle for New Orleans, moved to Paris in 1814 to continue to study medicine and support himself by playing piano for 16 years, and then returned to New Orleans in 1830. The beginning of the book is a little slow as the author provides the background the reader needs to understand the situation: a strict caste system for “colored” people, based on the percentage of white blood in their background, which determines what opportunities are open to them; a Creole social system where parents of young white men negotiate with mothers of young “colored” women for the man to become the “protector” of the woman, with a written contract providing for support of the woman for the rest of her life and for the education of any children that result; and Americans are moving in and taking more and more control away from the Creoles, with most of the Americans being uneducated Kentuckians and river rats, who think that anybody with any African blood in their background ought to be a slave, or at least treated like one. The attitude of most of the Americans toward the Creoles isn’t much better.
Once the murder takes place and Benjamin turns sleuth, the book becomes compelling and after many twists and turns he uncovers the truth he was searching for, plus several other truths that take him by surprise.
After reading the first book, I immediately started on the second book, Fever Season ($6.99), which begins a few months later. Yellow fever and cholera have struck the city, and most of the wealthier residents have fled the city, but Benjamin is working at Charity Hospital. He quickly learns that there are worse fates than catching the dread diseases, and one of the worst is to become a patient of one of the white doctors in town, who believe that bleeding patients and forcing large amounts of mercury salts into them are the ideal cures for everything. He remarks that he saw less blood in the Battle for New Orleans than he sees in a single night at the hospital when one of the white doctors is making rounds. In addition to working nights at the hospital, he’s soon spending most of his days sleuthing on several mysteries, apparently almost never sleeping.
I’ll be making time to go through the rest of the books in the series: Graveyard Dust ($6.99), Sold Down the River ($7.50), Die Upon a Kiss ($5.99), Wet Grave ($7.50), Days of the Dead ($6.99), and Dead Water ($6.99).
by Gerri Balter
The Innocent by Harlan Coben ($9.99 pb or $26.95 signed hc) has to do with the choices we make and consequences of those choices. Matt Hunter, a teenage boy who has a great future, breaks up a fight and accidentally kills someone. He is sentenced to prison. When he gets out, his brother helps him find a job at a law firm. He meets a woman and tells her about his past. She doesn’t mind. They marry and she becomes pregnant. Again he seems to have a great future. She buys them a pair of cell phones. When she goes out of town, he calls her. She doesn’t answer. No one seems to know where she is. He receives a picture of her having sex with someone. He figures out that the picture is a fake, but not before the man in the picture is found murdered. Matt is the prime suspect. He refuses to go back to jail. He escapes and tries to find out the truth. The truth shatters everything he believes in and puts his wife’s life in danger.
Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart ($7.99 pb or $24.00 signed hc) is the second book featuring Nora Gavin and Cormac Maguire. Nora Gavin, a pathologist, is called to examine a body found by peat workers at the Lake of Sorrows. Cormac goes with her so he can write while she works. While the first body is being excavated, a second body is found. Although the first body is of a man who died long ago, the second is of a man who died recently. He is identified as a former resident of the area who was thought to have moved to Australia. Soon after his body is identified, his killer has to kill more people to keep his secret. In order to keep the police from finding him, the killer plants evidence on Cormac. It’s up to him and Nora to find the real killer before he is arrested. Many of the inhabitants who live and work at the Lake of Sorrows have secrets. They aren’t the only ones. Nora has a secret too. Which of the secrets are worth killing to keep?
V.I. Warshawski coaches a girls high school basketball team in South Chicago, where she grew up, as a favor to her old coach in Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky ($9.99 pb or $25.95 signed hc). Things have changed since she went to school. This team has poor equipment, uniforms, and can’t afford to hire anyone to coach. She looks for a sponsor for the team to help them. She goes to the owner of By-Smart, the largest employer in the area hoping that he will help her. Although he refuses, his grandson believes in her cause. She finds out why when he runs away with one of her players. While she tries to find him, she also investigates the reason for an arson fire at a small manufacturing plant where the mother of one of her players works. Someone doesn’t want her to get involved. Her life is threatened on more than one occasion and people she knows are getting killed. No one wants to tell her the truth. She has to force people to tell her what she needs to know while the killer is determined to stop her.
Peach Cobbler doesn’t seem like it would be a motive for murder. In Peach Cobbler Murder by Joanne Fluke ($6.99), it could be a motive for one. Hannah Swensen’s bakery, The Cookie Jar, is being put out of business by the Magnolia Blossom Bakery run by Shawna Lee and Vanessa Quinn. Peach Cobbler is one of their most popular items even though everyone tells Hannah that it doesn’t taste as good as the one she makes to try to compete. When Shawna Lee is murdered, Hannah is one of the suspects especially since she’s the one who found the body. Unfortunately, she has quite a motive. Not only does Shawna try to put her out of business, she also tries to steal one of Hannah’s boyfriends. Hannah, her sister, and friends are bound to find out the truth. It’s more difficult that it seems. There are many other suspects who have motives. One by one Hannah, with help, clears them. Then who is the killer? Someone Hannah doesn’t suspect and who is determined not to get caught even if that means killing Hannah.
I’m a big fan of Tim Myers. I buy his books without reading the cover. I also put my books in book covers. I started reading Dead Men Don’t Lye by Tim Myers ($6.99) assuming it was either his lighthouse or candlemaking series. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was a new series about soap making. Unlike the previous series, this one delves into the relationship between siblings. The protagonist is the oldest of several siblings and family dynamics play a large part of this mystery.
Benjamin Perkins helps his mother run the family owned business called Where There’s Soap. When he finds Jerry Sanger, his ingredient supplier, dead on the steps of his business, his first worry is how he will tell his sister. She has been dating Jerry. When the police find out that Jerry has been cheating on Louise and she knows about it, she is the prime suspect. His mother insists that he investigates and find proof that his sister is innocent. He doesn’t know much about investigating, but he finds himself asking the right questions because another person is arrested for Jerry’s murder. The problem is that Ben doesn’t think she’s guilty of murder. He believes someone else committed the crime and he feels a duty to bring the actual killer to justice even though it means putting his own life in danger.
When NYPD detective Jane Bauer comes back from her vacation in Paris, she is assigned a cold case of an undercover cop, Micah Anthony, who was killed in Greenwich Village ten years ago. Murder in Greenwich Village by Lee Harris ($6.99) tells the story of the investigation. Jane and her team look everywhere from his personal life to his final case, hoping to find a clue as to what happened. During the investigation, Jane’s partner is kidnapped. Now she has an even more important reason to investigation Micah’s death. She has to find her partner before he is killed too. The clues lead her to a search of two subway tunnels, one without permission. Even though she may lose her job, she refuses to give up before she finds the truth.
Fair Game by Evan McNamara ($7.99) starts soon after Superior Position ($7.99) ends. Sheriff Bill Tatum is out patrolling when he finds the dead body of his deputy’s father. The man has been murdered. Although Bill is short handed and doesn’t want to believe his deputy is a suspect, he has to question him because he, among several others, appeared at the crime scene shortly after Bill. That’s not his only problem. Someone is blowing up military hospitals and the FBI thinks the people who are doing it live in his county. Unable to completely trust anyone, Bill is investigating two cases at the same time. More people are murdered and someone tries to blow up his vehicle. First one person looks guilty, then another. Slowly Bill has to sift through all the clues and find the truth before the killer kills him.
Absolute Certainty by Rose Connors ($6.99) begins by letting you know that something has gone wrong with the justice system. The question is what. Mary Nickerson, an assistant D.A. for Massachusetts’ Barnstable County, believes that Manuel Rodriguez has brutally killed a man. When the jury finds him guilty, she is happy. After Manuel tries to kill her, she is positive he is guilty. After more men are brutally murdered the same way, she isn’t so sure. However, the D.A. is and doesn’t want her to voice her doubts. She can’t keep silent even though it may mean that she will be fired. To her the truth is more important especially when the next victim might be her son.
Exploring caves can be dangerous even if you aren’t alone. That’s what Diane Fallon finds out in Dead Secret by Beverly Connor ($7.99). While exploring a cave with co-workers and friends, she falls and finds a dead body of a man who has been in the cave for years. While she and her co-workers try to find out how he died and who he is, more bodies of people who have been dead for years are brought to her. There doesn’t seem to be a relationship between the bodies. However, bad things start happening to her and her co-workers. Her mother is arrested and put in jail without a trial, a victim of identity theft. She and one of her co-workers are stabbed by someone at a funeral. Another co-worker’s house is vandalized. Her life is threatened. What does all this have to do with the dead bodies? Diane thinks that it has something to do with her. Whatever the reason, she has got to find the answer before someone else is killed.
When Hamish Macbeath sees a notice advertising a writing class, he is sure no one will attend. However, quite a few of the villagers show up at John Heppel’s writing class in Death of a Bore by M.C. Beaton ($6.99). When John insults them, they tell him off and leave. A short time later he’s found murdered. Hamish’s superiors are sure the murderer is one of the villagers. Hamish disagrees. He thinks the murderer is one of the people at the television studio where John also worked. Even after Hamish is ordered to concentrate on the villagers, he disobeys and investigates the people in the television studio. He finds that John had few friends there and lots of enemies. With the villagers and the people at the television studio as suspects, Hamish is determined to find out who really killed John, no matter what the cost.
In Long Time Gone by J.A. Jance ($9.99 or $24.95 signed hc), J.P. Beaumont is involved in two cases. He was assigned to one case; a nun, under hypnosis, remembers that she witnessed a murder when she was a child. The other is personal. His best friend, Ron Peters, is accused of killing his ex-wife. She was suing for custody of their youngest daughter. Because Beau and Ron are friends, he isn’t supposed to be involved in that case. However, when Ron’s family and lawyer ask him for help, he refuses to say no. In the meantime, he is working on investigating the murder the nun saw. One by one the suspects are dying. Beau believes someone is killing them. The only question is who’s left. That’s what he has to find out while helping Ron by finding out who really killed his ex-wife.
Harry Bosch returns to the L.A. Police Department in The Closers by Michael Connelly ($7.99 or $26.95 signed hc). He joins the cold case squad or as it is called in L.A., Open/Unsolved Unit. He is teamed with Kiz Rider. He is warned that he is on probation. One false move and he’s out. There are those within the police department that would like nothing more than to have him screw up. He and Kiz are given the case of a teenager who was killed in 1988. The case is being reopened due to a DNA match. When they reopen the case, they find that the police officers originally assigned to it did sloppy police work. They find clues that lead them to a small time crook. The problem is that they can’t find a link between him and the dead girl. When they finally interview the dead girl’s parents, they found more clues of police mistakes. Could some of their people be responsible for keeping the case from being solved? Bosch is determined to find the truth even though it may cost him his job.
Plant Them Deep by Aimee & David Thurlo ($14.95) is a stand-alone novel that takes place on the same Navaho Reservation as the Ella Clah novels. The protagonist in this one is Rose Destea, Ella Clah’s mother. Rose believes in the traditional Navaho ways. She is a member of the Plant Watchers society, a group of men and women who watch over the sacred Navaho plants that grow wild on the Navaho reservation as well as being cultivated in native healers and other people’s gardens. When these plants start disappearing, Rose is asked to find out why. She learns that someone is stealing them. She can’t figure out who is stealing them or why. When one of her friends, Charlie, is killed, she is sure it is related to the plants that are being stolen. At first the police think his death is an accident. She knows better. He has been murdered. What she finds out is that Charlie isn’t who she thought he was. Now she has two mysteries to solve, and she has to solve the mystery of who is stealing the plants soon. She has a seriously ill friend, Lena, who won’t recover if she isn’t healed by a native healer. The healer needs one of the missing plants. There are those who don’t want her to investigate and threaten her. That doesn’t stop Rose who realizes that like her police officer daughter, Ella, she, too, is determined to do whatever is necessary to find the truth and save her friend.
Murder Plays House by Ayelet Waldman ($7.99) is about eating and eating disorders. There is Juliet Applebaum who is pregnant and 50 lbs. overweight. There is her six year old daughter who is worried about getting fat and wants to go on a diet. Then Juliet finds a dead woman, who looks emaciated, in the house she wants to buy. She didn’t starve to death. Someone murdered her. The dead woman’s brother owns the house and can’t think about selling after his sister’s death. Juliet hopes if she finds out who the killer is, she will be able to buy the house. Everywhere she goes to find out about the dead woman, she finds women who have eating disorders, giving the term “killer body” a whole new meaning.
Imagine answering the phone and hearing a woman pleading for help before hearing her being killed. That’s what happened to Jennifer Shane, proprietress of Custom Card Creations, in Invitation to Murder by Elizabeth Bright ($6.99). Luckily, her brother is the sheriff of Rebel Forge, Virginia, the town where she lives. She calls him and reports what she heard. A few days later a young woman is found brutally murdered. It might have been the end of the case for Jennifer except for the fact that someone keeps threatening to kill her if she doesn’t keep quiet about what she heard. Jennifer is determined to find out who did commit the murder and is threatening her life. She asks her Aunt Lillian to help her investigate the case. Because some of the suspects are clients, she is easily able to question them. The closer she comes to finding the truth, the closer the killer comes to ending her life.
Murder on Black Friday by P.B. Ryan ($6.99) tells about the investigation of two deaths that took place during Wall Street’s first black Friday. The men were acquaintances of the Hewitts, Nell Sweeney’s employers. Supposedly, both men committed suicide. However, Dr. Will Hewitt believes that at least one, if not both of the men, were murdered. Nell helps him investigate their deaths. It seems that these men not only knew each other but were involved in business together. Nell and Will find out that they were involved in more than business together. Something in their relationship led them to die. Nell and Will can’t stop investigating until they find the truth, a truth that makes them question their relationship as well.
Tres Navarre isn’t the kind of person who plays by the rules. In Mission Road by Rick Riordan ($6.99) he really bends the law farther than he ever has before when Ralph, an old friend, comes to him for help. Ralph appears in his house covered in blood. Before Tres can find out what happened, the police arrive and tell him that Ralph shot his wife, Ana, a police officer. Ralph insists he’s innocent but that the police don’t like him and will make sure he is convicted. Tres believes him. The two men escape and start trying to find out who shot Ana. It turns out that Ralph is also wanted for a killing that happened eighteen years earlier. His wife was trying to prove that he didn’t do it when she was killed. Everywhere they turn, the police are right behind them. They have to turn to a mobster for help even though it was the mobster’s son who Ralph was accused of killing eighteen years ago. To find out exactly what happened eighteen years earlier and who shot Ana, it may cost more lives, including Tres’s.
In High Country Fall by Margaret Maron ($6.99), Judge Deborah Knott is tired of all the fuss being made over her engagement to Dwight Bryant. So when she gets a chance to go to Cedar Gap to preside at the court there, she eagerly agrees. It’s tough to find a place to stay so she stays in a cousin’s condo. She has a big case to try, the murder of a prominent business man and doctor, Dr. Ledwig. He was pushed to his death from a balcony. Unfortunately, her cousin’s twins are involved in the case. They knew Dr. Ledwig’s daughter and her boyfriend, who is being tried for the crime. Before the case can come to trial another man is pushed to his death from the same balcony. This time Deborah is there along with a whole group of people, none of whom saw anything. Deborah believes there is a link between these two cases and someone wants her out of the way. While she fights for her life, she figures out the truth. Can she survive long enough to report what she knows?
Ashes of Aries by Martha C. Lawrence ($6.99) tells the story of Matthew Fielding, a four year old child who has been kidnapped. Matthew is a selective mute. The only people he communicates with are his parents, who die in a horrific fire. It’s up to Elizabeth Chase to find him. She has to interpret the clues she can see in her mind. She believes the fire and Matthew’s kidnapping are connected. Meanwhile more fires are set and more people are in harm’s way, including her parents. Can she find out who is kidnapping Matthew and setting the fires before more people are killed? The killer is willing to kill her to keep her from finding out the truth.
Everyone has had the experience of being betrayed by a friend. That‘s what happens to Erin Gilbert in False Premises by Leslie Caine ($6.99). Erin helps her friend, Laura, redecorate her home, complete with antiques. When she visits Laura, she finds all the antiques replaced by cheap replicas. She finds out that Laura is a scam artist who stole everything from Steve Sullivan, an archrival. When Laura is murdered, Steve is the prime suspect. Erin feels responsible because he didn’t know Laura was in town until she told him. She knows he couldn’t have killed Laura and has decided to help him prove his innocence. Unfortunately, Laura destroyed more lives than just Steve’s. All of them are people Erin knows. And one of them is willing to go to any lengths to keep her from finding truth.
Speak of the Devil by Richard Hawke ($7.99, due early March) begins at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Fritz Malone is watching the parade while bringing a bag of bagels back to his apartment where his girlfriend is waiting. He sees a man with a gun who seems to be pointing it at Mother Goose on a float. He throws the bag of bagels at her, yelling for her to get down. The man starts shooting. He kills a police officer, among several others. Fritz manages to wound the man before he is taken away to the Police Commissioner. He finds out that the man he wounds is now dead under suspicious circumstances and a man is demanding one million dollars or more people will be killed. Fritz is asked to find out who this man is. The problem is that he is always one step ahead of Fritz. The main suspect is a drug dealer named Angel. Fritz doesn’t believe that Angel could be the one who has planned all this. It must be someone else. Could it be one of the police? Or maybe the mayor? Fritz has to find out before more innocent people are killed.
Wouldn’t you be surprised if you came home and found an escaped convict waiting for you? That’s what happens to Professor Simon Shaw in The Fugitive King by Sarah R. Shaber ($5.99). Roy Freedman wants Professor Shaw to prove he didn’t kill Eva Potter. He’s been in prison for killing her for 40 years. Although Professor Shaw doesn’t believe him, he still starts an investigation because it gives him a chance to escape the summer heat and go to his hometown where the murder took place. There aren’t many people around who remember the case. When the sheriff who originally investigated the case is murdered, Professor Shaw is sure Roy didn’t the commit the murder. Only if he didn’t, why did it take him so long to claim his innocence? Could there be something more going on besides the two murders? That’s what Professor Shaw tries to find out.
Blessed is the Busybody by Emilie Richards ($6.99) is a wonderful beginning of a series featuring Aggie Sloan-Wilcox. Her husband, Ed, is a Unitarian minister. They have two daughters, 11 and 6. They moved to Emerald Springs, Ohio because Ed wanted the peace and quiet of a small town. Unfortunately, their peace and quiet is shattered when the body of a naked woman is dumped at their front door. Ed knows the woman and refuses to tell the police about her, which makes him the prime suspect. Aggie investigates the crime to protect her family in spite of the fact that the police and her husband beg her to stay out of it. She finds out that the people in a small town can have as many, if not more, secrets than the big city folks. One of them is willing to kill to keep the secret from becoming public. The people in this series are real. They are the kind of people you know and want to know.
“Look closely” is the end of an anonymous message that attorney Hailey Sutter receives in Look Closely by Laura Caldwell ($6.99). What the message asks Hailey to do is look closely into the death of her mother that occurred when she was seven years old. Her father takes her away from the town where she was born. Her brother and sister leave home, never to return. From time to time she tries to ask her father about her mother’s death, but he always sidesteps the issue. She has been content to let it go until now. Since she is scheduled to travel close to where she was born and lived until her mother died, she decides to go back to her hometown and do a little investigating. What she finds out wakes memories that have lain dormant since she was seven, some of them painful. She tries to find her brother and sister only to find that they have disappeared. What could have happen to them? Is she next? What does all of this have to do with her mother’s death? To find the truth, all she has to do is look closely into the past and face what she finds.
Kate Gillespie is trying to get over the death of her brother, a homicide cop, and is trying to help raise his son, Kevin in Fatal Truth by Robin Burcell ($6.50). When Kate witnesses a cop kill her snitch, she wants to find out why and who else is involved. When the cop is killed as well, she’s put in charge of the case. The real killer doesn’t want her to find out the truth. When the real killer tries to implicate her, she refuses to stop digging for the truth even after she’s pulled off the case. When Kevin is runs off to save his mother who has been kidnapped, Kate is determined to keep him from harm, not realizing that saving him may cause her to lose her life.
As you can guess by the title, Jingle Bell Bark by Laurien Berenson ($6.50) takes place around Christmas time. When Melanie’ son’s, bus driver, Harry Pruitt, stops driving the bus, Melanie goes to his house to make sure he’s okay. Instead she finds out that he’s dead. She also finds out that Henry’s Golden Retrievers have been locked in the house since his death. They’ve been given food and water but no exercise. She gets a key from a neighbor and moves the dogs to her Aunt Pegs until Harry’s daughters arrive. His daughters could care less about the dogs. All they want is to find out how much they can make by selling them to the highest bidder. Aunt Peg refuses to let them get their hands on the dogs. When she finds out that Harry has been murdered, she decides to investigate with Melanie’s help. While helping Peg, Melanie realizes that she doesn’t know Harry as well as she thought. He was quite a ladies’ man. Could one of his former girlfriends have killed him? Or was their another reason for his murder? That’s what Melanie is determined to find out.
Today we equate bombs with terrorists. In the beginning of the twentieth century they equated it with anarchists. In Murder on Marble Row ($6.99), Victoria Thompson begins her mystery with a bomb that kills Gregory Van Dyke, a wealthy industrialist and a friend of Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt. He puts Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy in charge of the case. It should make Frank happy. The problem is that Felix Decker asked that Frank investigate the case. Felix Decker is Sarah Brandt’s father and the man Frank believes killed Sarah’s husband. Frank has strong feelings for Sarah, feelings he doesn’t want her to know about. He has purposely stayed away from her. Now he believes she’ll become involved in the case. He’s right. The main suspect is Gregory’s oldest son, Creighton, an anarchist. Sarah, who grew up with Creighton, and knows the Van Dyke family well, believes he is innocent. Unfortunately, while trying to clear his name, she finds that Gregory’s daughter, youngest son, wife, partner, and secretary all have motives as well. Both Frank and Sarah, investigating the case from different angles, find the truth, but not before their lives are put in danger by another bomb.
Regrets Only ($7.50) is a mystery written by Nancy Geary that kept this reader intrigued. Morgan Reese is a psychiatrist whose personal life is messy. She walked out on her husband and son when her son was a baby. She got pregnant after an affair with a married man and gives the twins she bore up for adoption. Then she reads about Foster Herbert’s suicide. She realizes he is one of the twins she gave up for adoption. Suddenly, she decides to see the son she abandoned and the remaining twin she gave up for adoption. She wants them to understand why she did what she did. She is murdered before she can do it. Lucy O’Malley is one of the detectives assigned to the case. The problem is that her lover is the son Morgan Reese abandoned. He is one of the suspects along with people Morgan Reese shares an office with and a patient who threatened to kill her, and the father of the twins who doesn’t want anyone to know that he is the father. One by one, Lucy and her partner, Jack Harper, investigate each of the suspects. Each step takes them closer to the murderer while bringing some ugly secrets out in the open.
The Silver Anniversary Murder by Lee Harris ($6.99) begins with a phone call from a mystery woman to Christine Bennett. She knows more about Christine than Christine knows about her. She mentions that today is her 25th wedding anniversary. She also mentions that a body will be found. Christine hears what sounds like a shot and then silence. With the police’s help, Christine finds where the call comes from, an empty apartment with a blood stain on the bedroom carpet. A short time later, a woman’s body is found and then a man’s. The mystery isn’t only who killed them but who they were. They used several different names. It looks as if they were hiding from someone or something. Christine slowly begins to find clues to all the names they used and where they lived. When their daughter arrives, she confides in Christine instead of the police. The women follow the trail of the dead couple with the murderer following them. It’s a race as to whether they find out the truth before the murderer catches up with them.
People experience mid-life crisis in different times in their lives. In The Body in the Attic by Katherine Hall Page ($6.99), it’s happening to Faith Fairchild’s husband, Tom. He’s taking a leave of absence from his ministry in Aleford, Massachusetts to teach at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge. Although Faith doesn’t want to move, even temporarily, she goes along with her husband. They move into a gloomy house leased to them by another professor who has taken a sabbatical out west. Faith hates the house. She misses her life and friends in Aleford. This is the last place she wants to be until she meets an old boyfriend named Richard in of all places, a soup kitchen where she’s helping out. He looks like a homeless person. When she questions him, he tells her he’s working on a book about the homeless and has to look like them to do his research. They meet for lunch and he tells her about the people he has met. She decides not to tell Tom about him. Then she finds a diary dated 1946, written by a woman who is being abused by her husband. She finds herself intrigued by the woman’s story and she reads it every chance she has, hoping that the woman’s story has a happy ending. Between meeting Richard and reading the diary, she spends more time thinking about the past than living in the present until a homeless man is found murdered. He’s identified as Richard. Faith is heartbroken. She calls Richard’s sister and hears more disturbing news about his life. She buries herself more in the diary hoping to find more about the writer. She doesn’t realize that she’s being followed by someone who wants something from her, something this person is willing to kill to get.
Grave Endings by Rochelle Krich ($6.99) begins with a happy time in Molly Blume’s life. In two weeks, she will be a bride. Molly Blume is like any bride to be. Part of her can’t wait to get married. Part of her is wondering if she’ll make a good wife, especially since her husband-to-be is an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi. However, she has more on her mind when her friend LAPD Detective Andy Connors shows her a locket she gave to her best friend, Aggie Lasher. Aggie was killed six years earlier. Molly has had guilt feelings ever since because she blew off Angie the last night of her life. If she hadn’t, maybe Aggie would be alive. She learns that the locket was found on a dead man named Randy Creeley. The police tell her that proves Randy killed Aggie. Molly isn’t so sure. Why would he kill her? The police say it’s because he’s a former drug addict. Still Molly has questions. Why pick Aggie? She begins to investigate Randy’s past. It seems that he did know Aggie and they were involved. Now Molly has more questions. Why didn’t Aggie tell her? She thought they shared everything. She keeps investigating and the more she finds out, the more she has doubts about Randy’s guilt. If he didn’t kill Aggie, then who did? Between last minute wedding plans, she continues her investigation and finds out the truth about Aggie and Randy and why Aggie had to die.
Bone Harvest by Mary Logue ($23.95 signed hc or $6.99 pb) begins with a brutal murder of a family in Wisconsin in 1952. Fifty years later someone wants to avenge those murders. This person begins by using pesticide to kill flowers, animals, and finally poisoning people. Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins is asked to find this person. What she finds out is that people who were murdered were German immigrants who kept to themselves and who weren’t liked by some because they were German. Was it a hate crime? Or was someone after their land? Most of the people who could have committed the crime are dead. All their children know is what they were told by their parents. Claire is racing the clock to find out who wants to avenge those murders before this person begins killing people.
In A Taint in the Blood by Dana Stabenow ($6.99), Kate Shugak takes on a cold case when Charlotte Muravieff asks her to prove her mother, Victoria, isn’t guilty of setting fire to her home and killing one brother and leaving another a cripple. Victoria has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and Charlotte wants her mother be proven innocent before she dies. At first, Kate isn’t sure she can help. Victoria was convicted over 30 years ago. Most of the witnesses are either dead or claim they don’t remember. Victoria refuses to talk to her. However, Kate keeps on digging and soon someone is trying to silence anyone who might be able to help. The first victim is a friend of Kate’s who his helping her with the case. Next Victoria’s husband is found dead. In spite of the fact that people are dying, Kate refuses to give up. She is determined to find the truth no matter what the cost.