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Newsletter #86 June August, 2009

Mystery Reviews
by Gerri Balter

        Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his partner, Sergeant Gemma James take their sons to Cheshire for their first family Christmas with Duncan’s family in Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie ($24.95 signed hardcover or $7.99 pb). Before they get there, Duncan’s sister, Juliet Newcombe finds the skeleton of a baby in the barn she is working on converting. She calls Duncan instead of calling the police. He calls the police and finds out one of his childhood friends is the chief inspector in charge of the case. He hopes that will be the end of it. Then he and his son befriend a woman who lives aboard a river boat and she is murdered. Can the two cases be connected? The more he and Gemma try to stay out of the investigation, the more they are drawn in especially when the killer targets a member of their family.

        The Witch is Dead by Shirley Damsgaard ($6.99) begins when Ophelia Jensen’s Aunt Dot comes to visit. She accepts help from a balding man who is later murdered. Ophelia does not want to become involved. Besides working at the library, Ophelia is learning how to be a mother to Tink, a teenage girl, who is a medium. Ophelia hopes to adopt Tink. Tink is upset at the man’s murder because she felt a spirit trying to get her attention when she saw him. She ignored the spirit and now thinks if she had told him, he wouldn’t have been murdered. Aunt Dot is determined to have an adventure by investigating the case. When Tink disappears, Ophelia is forced to use her talent to investigate the man’s murder because she is sure that Tink’s disappearance has something to do with it. She finds out more than she wants to know about the suspects. Yet no one seems to know anything about Tink. The answer is much closer than she realizes.

        At Some Disputed Barricade by Anne Perry ($15.00) begins in 1917 with Army Chaplain Joseph Reavley questioning his faith more than ever. Soldiers are dying in terrible ways and there doesn’t seem to be any way to bring comfort to the soldiers left alive. When Major Northrup refuses to listen to his men and continues to send them to their death, some of his men rebel. He is murdered by one of them. Joseph is commissioned to find out who killed him and why. Meanwhile Joseph’s brother, Matthew, is happy that the man he thinks killed their parents is dead. He finds out differently. He thinks the man responsible sent a prosecutor to Joseph’s squad to try all the men who might be responsible for the major’s death. Matthew knows that the men will rebel if all the men are found guilty and put to death. It’s up to the brothers working together to find out the truth.

        Brad is enjoying making teddy bears based on TV detectives as The Crafty Teddy by John J. Lamb ($6.99) begins. When someone breaks into Brad and Ashe Lyon’s home and takes a shot at Brad before stealing an expensive teddy bear, Brad hopes the police will find the criminal soon. When weeks go by and the person responsible is not found, Brad wonders if the case will ever be solved. The he notices three members of a Japanese Yakuza in town. He trails them to a local museum where he finds the body of the museum director. Once he finds out the man was murdered, he begins to get involved in the investigation. With Ashe’s help he finds out the truth which leads to someone who wants him dead.

        How would you feel if the police asked you who might want you dead? That’s what happens to Josie Prescott in Deadly Appraisal by Jane Cleland ($23.95 signed hardcover or $6.99 pb). Maisy Gaylor, the woman sitting next to her at the Black and Gold Gala was killed by poison wine. The question is who was the wine intended for, Josie or Maisy? Josie doesn’t want to think it’s her. But she can’t be sure. She looks at everyone, from employees to friends, differently, especially after someone tries to run her down. In order to find out the truth, she looks into everyone’s background, hoping to find out the truth before it’s too late

        The lost angel in Lost Angel by Mike Doogan ($7.99) is a teenage girl named Faith Wright who is missing from Rejoice, a Christian community, in Alaska’s interior. The people in nearby Devil’s Toe call the people in the community angels and it isn’t meant as a compliment. Nik Kane has been asked by Anchorage’s chief of police, Tom Jeffords to look into the case. Nik is a former Anchorage police officer who has recently been cleared of charges that put him in jail for seven years. Nik hopes that by doing Tom a favor, Tom might help him get back on the police force. At first it seems that there is no reason for Faith to have left the community. When he digs into her life further, he finds out that something happened soon after the death of her mother that changed the girl. She looked for and found a reason to attend high school in Devil’s Toe even though there is a perfectly good high school in Rejoice. She also walked away from the friends she had. She befriends a boy in Devil’s Toe whose father runs a prostitution ring, among other illegal activities. A strange friend for someone who comes from Rejoice. The more Nik finds about Faith, the more he realizes that someone in Rejoice knows more than they are saying. When someone tries to kill him, he knows he’s on the right path. Now all he has to do is find the truth before the killer makes him the next victim.

        Jo McAllister, owner of Craft Corner, is worried about her lease as String of Lies by Mary Ellen Hughes ($6.99) begins. Parker Holt seems to want to buy all the small businesses in town. She doesn’t want to move, but she might not have a choice. When she goes to confront Parker Holt, she finds him murdered due to electrocution. The primary suspect is someone who works on the construction crew headed by Dan, a good friend. When Dan begins to lose business because of this, Jo realizes that the only way to help is to clear Dan and his crew. She asks and receives help from crafters at her shop. One by one they check out the suspects while the killer realizes that the only way to stop them is to stop Jo.

        Kate Gallagher has been let from her job as a TV producer in Dying to be Thin by Kathryn Lilley ($6.99). She wants to start a new career in front of the camera, but she’s told she needs to lose weight first. She goes to the Hoffman Clinic in Durham, North Carolina, diet capital of the world. Before she can even start the program, she finds Dr. Hoffman murdered. She manages to convince the local TV station to let her work on the story. She forgets all about losing weight. She’s too busy tracking down suspects, hoping this might lead to a full-time job. She doesn’t think about the fact that the killer might not be want to be found.

        I could empathize with Elliot Freed in Some Like It Hot-Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen ($6.99) when he becomes angry when a dead body is found in the movie theater he hopes will be the fulfillment of his dream. He becomes even angrier when the cause of death is murder due to poison popcorn. When one of his employees is the prime suspect and disappears, he starts his own investigation. What he turns up is a DVD pirating operation which might be the reason for the murder. The problem is that his employee seems to be the prime suspect for that crime as well. When someone tries to kill him as well, he is more determined than ever to find the truth before he loses his life as well.



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