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Newsletter #96 December, 2011 February, 2012

Mystery Reviews
by Gerri Balter

        The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson ($24.99, $7.99 pb due in January, winner of 2011 Anthony Award for Best 1st Novel) starts when Lily Moore comes back to New York to identify the body of her sister. Lily is sure her sister died of a drug overdose. When she sees the body, she realizes it isn’t her sister. So who is the dead woman and what happened to her sister? That’s what Lily is determined to find out. She finds out more than she wishes to know. Her former boyfriend seems to have had a relationship with her sister even when they were together. Then there’s her sister’s former boyfriend who will do anything to find her. Lily’s life is put in danger by what she finds out, but that won’t stop her. She will find the truth because she loves her sister in spite of their differences.

        The Sherlockian by Graham Moore ($24.99 hc, $14.99 tr pb due in January) tells two stories. One has to do was what might have happened to Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle between the time he killed Sherlock Holmes and brought him back and the other has to do with the search for a missing diary of Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle and who killed the man who said he found it. The novel is a mixture of fact and fiction with fascinating characters including Bram Stoker, two intricate plots intertwined, and a fascinating picture of what life was like at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Normally I don’t read Author’s Notes nor do I recommend people read them. This time, I strongly suggest you read it. After reading this novel, I’m adding a trip to Switzerland to visit the Sherlock Holmes museum to my bucket list.

        Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny ($24.99 signed hc or $14.99 tr pb) is the one thing Chief Inspector Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir can’t do. Gamache is blaming himself for the deaths of people in his command. He believes his mistakes caused their deaths. He leaves his home and goes to Quebec City to get away from his nightmares. Unfortunately, his nightmares follow him. Then he becomes involved in the investigation of a murder in the only English language library in Quebec City. It is a way for him to forget his pain. Meanwhile Jean-Guy Beauvoir is sent to Three Pines while he is recovering from his wounds. Gamache sends him there because he isn’t sure the right man went to prison for the murder of a hermit. While both men try to solve their cases, the reader learns what happened that causes Gamache and Jean-Guy so much pain.

        I admit that I felt a bond with Georgiana Neverall in Lead-Pipe Cinch by Christy Evans ($6.99) not because of her job as a plumber’s apprentice. I know nothing about plumbing. But because she wants to keep her past private. She used to be a hot shot computer expert. She even had her own company. Then she met Blake Weston. She dated him. She made him a partner. Then he took the company away from her and left her with nothing. She comes home to make a fresh start in a new career. Then she meets Blake on the job she is working on. When he’s murdered, she is the prime suspect. Her friends want to help, but she doesn’t want to admit she was a fool. She’s determined to find out the truth on her own which means lying to the police and her friends, and putting herself in a situation which might mean the end of her life.

        Abby Knight is like most people. When she has a cause that she believes in, she will do whatever it takes. In Sleeping with Anemone by Kate Collins ($6.99), that means putting her life in danger. She doesn’t realize that’s what’s going to happen when she tries to stop Uniworld Foods from putting a dairy farm nearby. She wants to stop them from their harmful farming practices. Even when she begins to receive threats, she thinks it’s a ploy to stop her. Then her cousin is kidnapped by someone who thinks she’s Abby. Her flower shop is trashed. Her niece is kidnapped by someone who thinks she’s Abby. Even when Abby backs down, the threats keep coming. Someone steals the brooches her mother makes to sell at her flower shop. Abby feels that she has to find out the truth so she can get on with her life. What she doesn’t realize is that the person who is after her won’t stop until she is dead.

        Borderline by Nevada Barr ($9.99) refers to the border between Texas and Mexico in Big Bend National Park through which the Rip Grande flows. At one time no one patrolled that border and it was opened. Then 9/11 happened and the border was closed and it was patrolled. Anna Pigeon and her husband, Paul, go there on a raft trip with a group of people. It’s more than a vacation. Anna is recovering from what happened to her on Isle Royale. She has just started to relax when things began to happen. They come across a cow that is trapped. Anna, who has taken one life, feels that she must rescue this one. While they try to rescue the trapped animal, a storm comes up and the high water causes their raft to overturn. As they swim to shore, one of the other people on the raft finds a woman who is very pregnant and close to death. The woman dies but Anna does a C-section and saves the baby, a girl. When they try to find a way out, someone starts shooting at them. The killer kills two of the group before they are rescued. While Anna and her husband are recovering from their ordeal, someone tries to kidnap the baby girl they are caring for. Anna is determined to protect the baby girl until the proper authorities come for her. The others believe that the woman was a Mexican who tried to cross the border so that the baby would be born American. Anna isn’t so sure. From what she saw, the woman looked as if she had money and wouldn’t have needed to cross the border. By the time Anna learns the truth, the killer has captured both her and the baby. She will do what is needed to save the baby and keep herself from being killed.

        Faithful Place ($16.00) by Tana French is a neighborhood in Dublin Ireland where there isn’t much faith. The story begins in 1985 when nineteen- year-old Francis Mackey is ready to leave Faithful Place with the girl he loves, Rose Daly. When she doesn’t meet him, he leaves his dysfunctional family and becomes an undercover cop. He never plans to go back to them. Then his sister, Jackie, one of the few family members he is still in contact with, calls to tell him that Rose’s suitcase was found during remodeling of one of the apartments. He always thought she ran off without him. He forces himself to go back and examines the suitcase’s contents. It tells him she didn’t run off. With that evidence, he finds her remains. He finds that he still cares for her and feels compelled to find her killer even though the detective in charge warns him off. Then his youngest brother falls out of a window and dies. The detective in charge believes it is either an accident or suicide. Francis knows he’s been murdered, by the same person who killed Rose. He believes he knows who the killer is, even though he has no proof, and plans his own form of revenge. His nine-year-old daughter has her own plans for she thinks she knows who the killer is too. Now he has to confront the killer before the killer does something drastic to his child.

        Damage Control by J.A. Jance ($9.99) is well named. Joanna Brady, Cochise County Sheriff, has a lot to balance on her plate. Her new baby is keeping her and her husband up at night. Her husband has a chance to go out and promote his new book. In order for him to do that, they have to find someone to care for the baby while she is at work. On top of that, she has several cases to investigate. An old couple drives off a cliff on purpose or maybe not. A fire was set destroying a trailer and killing some of the inhabitants. Two trash bags filled with human remains were found. Some of the cases are related. It’s up to Joanne and her team to solve them.

        Face Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan ($7.99) about families. Charlotte “Charlie” McNally is juggling her career as a TV reporter, visiting her mom who is recovering from surgery, and trying to figure out how to relate to her boyfriend’s daughter, who isn’t happy about sharing her father with someone who isn’t her mother. Then there’s the story she’s working on, trying to find evidence to free Dorinda Sweeney from prison. She’s been convicted of murdering her husband. The problem is that Dorinda doesn’t want Charlie’s help. She refuses to talk to her. Normally that would be enough to stop Charlie. Not this time. Her boss wants this story to run during sweeps and Charlie’s producer promised it would be ready. Charlie wants to convince Dorinda to talk to her. Someone keeps trying to stop her, which only makes her more determined. Then she realizes why Dorinda doesn’t want her to be involved. It has to do with family. Charlie has to make some serious decisions that might cost her everything.



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