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Newsletter #101 March May, 2013

Mystery Reviews
by Gerri Balter

        When wealthy businessman Nehemiah Wooten is murdered, the last thing Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy wants is to call in midwife Sarah Brandt. But in Murder on Lexington Avenue by Victoria Thompson ($7.99), he has little choice when the dead man's wife goes into labor with a child that no one knows she’s carrying. Wooten's daughter Electra is deaf, but his father didn’t believe in sign language, so she attends a school where only lip reading is caught. When Wooten found out Electra was seeing a young deaf man who taught at a sign language school, he did everything to keep them apart. Malloy has plenty of other suspects as well. The dead man’s wife is having an affair with a younger man, who is the father of her baby. Could he have killed the businessman? Malloy is forced to ask Sarah for help in finding the truth, especially after another person is killed.

        In Earthway by Aimee & David Thurlo ($14.99), Ella Clah has tough decisions to make. Her daughter is staying with her father in Washington, DC, and seems to be having way too much fun. Ella likes living on the reservation. What if her daughter doesn’t want to come back? Then there’s the job offer she’s received. The job would pay much more than she’s getting now, but she would have to leave the reservation. Finally, there’s her relationship with Reverend Bilford Tome. He’s a devout Christian while she’s a traditionalist. When someone tries to kill Reverend Tome, she’s in charge of finding out who and why. But whatever she tries seems to fail, and she begins to realize that the killer knows exactly what she’s doing. It takes her entire family and Reverend Tome to help her find out the truth.

        I enjoy all the Louise Penny novels, but A Trick of the Light ($14.99) is the best so far. Clara Morrow has had her dream of a one-woman show of her art come true. The day after the show, she finds a dead body in her garden, a friend who had belittled her work. Chief Inspector Gamache of the Quebec Surete and his team arrive to investigate. It’s tough for Gamache to return to Three Pines because he imprisoned one of the town’s most beloved inhabitants on a murder charge. Even though he later realized his mistake and found the real killer, he has not been forgiven. Meanwhile, Jean Guy Beauvoir, a member of Gamache’s team, is fighting his own problems. And Clara’s husband, an artist himself, is not happy at her success, a success that has eluded him. All this plays out during the investigation. The murdered woman made a great many enemies, but only one of them killed her. In spite of everything, Gamache will find the truth.

        Coming Back by Marcia Muller ($7.99) tells what happens as Sharon McCone recovers from being shot. She is forced to be dependent, first on the therapists who help her learn to walk and talk, and then on friends and family because she can’t drive a car or fly a plane. It would be tough for anyone, but more so for a PI who runs her own firm. It becomes even worse when her family and friends feel unsure of her capabilities or worry that she is trying to do too much. One of the bright spots in Sharon’s recovery is her budding friendship with Piper, whom she meets during therapy. When Piper stops coming, Sharon is worried about her. When she goes to Piper’s home, she finds Piper lying on the floor, apparently drugged. Another woman comes in, says she is Piper’s aunt, and assures Sharon that she is taking care of Piper. Although Sharon leaves, she asks her staff to find out about this woman, and learns that the woman gave her a false name. In spite of her husband’s plea not to get involved, she feels that this is something she has to look into. Adah, a member of her staff, joins her when she goes back to Piper’s home, which is deserted. Adah and Sharon get separated and someone kidnaps Adah. Everyone blames Sharon. She accepts their blame, but is determined to find Adah and Piper. Reluctantly, the rest of her staff joins her, but it’s Sharon who finds out the truth.

        I admit that I hate spider webs so when I saw the The Spider’s Web by Margaret Coel ($7.99), I hesitated to buy it, but I’m glad I did. Ned Windsong came back to the reservation to start a new life. He got a job. He started to learn the Sun Dance. The only surprise was that he came back with a white woman, Marcy Morrison, who claimed to be his fiancé. His former fiancé Roseanne Birdwoman couldn’t believe it. When he is murdered, many people on the reservation believe that Marcy killed him. Although Roseanne hates Marcy, she knows who the real killers are. Both her life and Marcy’s are in danger. Marcy’s father hires Vicky Holden to represent her. Roseanne is on her own, although she has gone to Father O’Malley for help. He isn’t so sure Marcy is innocent. She has been staying at the mission, and he sees something that worries him. Although Vicky and Father O’Malley disagree about who killed Ned, they work together to find the truth.
        Laura DiSilverio has a very different protagonist in Die Buying ($7.99). After an injury ends her military career, E.J. Ferris gets a job as a mall cop while she tries to get a job in a police department. It isn’t easy due to her wounded knee. When some animal liberation people release reptiles from one of the stores, E.J. thinks her most dangerous job will be finding the snakes. Then a shopper finds the naked body of a man. The police don’t want E.J. involved in the case, but her grandfather, a former CIA agent, keeps investigating, and draws her in as well. The investigation brings her into contact with several people who could have committed the murder.

        Buttercream Bump Off by Jenn McKinlay ($6.99) begins around Valentine’s Day. Mel Cooper’s mother Joyce has a date with Baxter Malloy. When it ends in his murder, Joyce is the prime suspect. Mel and her business partner Angie are determined to find out who the real killer is. That’s not Mel’s only problem. Everytime she tries to go on a date with her police officer boyfriend, he falls asleep from exhaustion. Then Mel’s other partner and friend Tate finally realizes that he cares for Angie, who is now dating someone else. Mel hopes that she can clear everything up so she can spend time with her boyfriend and keep him awake. It’s bad enough that the killer doesn’t want her to succeed; she also has a business rival who will do anything to thwart Mel’s successful cupcake bakery.

        How dangerous can life as a book restorer be? That’s what Brooklyn Wainwright finds out in Murder Under Cover by Kate Carlisle ($7.99). When Brooklyn’s friend Robin brings her a copy of the Kama Sutra to appraise and restore, all Brooklyn expects is sore muscles after she and her boyfriend try out some of the moves. Instead her apartment is trashed, and people are dying around her, starting with a man Robin was dating. Luckily, Brooklyn’s boyfriend, British security expert Derek Stone, lets her move in with him and helps her investigate. None of it makes sense. She has nothing anyone wants, or does she?

        A Killer Column by Casey Mayes ($7.99) is an interesting book even if you aren’t interested in number puzzles. It begins when Savannah Stone learns that her column is being sold to a syndicate without her consent. She is furious, and lets her puzzle editor Derrick Duncan know it. When she goes back to apologize, she find his dead body, and winds up prime suspect in his murder. Her husband, a former police officer, comes to help her. The problem is that Derrick has been mean to everyone he’s come into contact with, including his wife. They all have motives and opportunities. Savannah and her husband have to find the killer before the killer comes after them.

        Would you believe crab cakes could be used to murder someone? In Killer Crab Cakes by Livia J. Washburn ($6.99), Phyllis Newsom and her friends go to the Texas Gulf Coast, to a bed-and-breakfast run by her cousin, who is leaving for a few weeks to visit her first grandchild. Phyllis is happy to help her out by running the place. When one of the guests is murdered, Phyllis is determined to find the killer, especially since the housekeeper is the prime suspect. She soon learns that the dead man was not well liked, even by his family. Then she finds out that some of the guests know more about the dead man than she realized. The worst happens when the killer realizes Phyllis knows more than she should.

        A Sheetcake Named Desire by Jacklyn Brady ($7.99) begins when Rita Lucero, a pastry chef, goes to New Orleans to convince Philippe Renier to sign divorce papers. Instead, she finds his dead body, and the police think she might have killed him. Since the divorce wasn’t final, she inherits his share of Zydeco Cakes. The employees aren’t happy to see her, but Philippe’s mother welcomes her, and shows her that she is needed at the company. When she learns that every time they try to bid on a cake, something bad happens, she realizes that someone is trying to sabotage the company. Could the saboteur also be the killer? Rita has to find out or she has no future. Of course, finding out the truth could keep her from having a future, as well.

        A month ago, Kelly Flynn found a young woman named Holly in her yard, high on drugs, in Skein of the Crime by Maggie Sefton ($7.99). But Holly has been turning over a new leaf, so when she is found dead of a drug overdose, Kelly finds it hard to believe that Holly deliberately took the drugs, and sets out to discover who gave them to her. The problem is that a great many people around Holly have access to the drug, including Holly’s med student boyfriend, and his mother, who takes pain killers for a bad back. It all comes together when she realizes who the killer is.

        Things are not going well for Abby Cooper in Better Read than Dead by Victoria Laurie ($7.99). Her boyfriend, FBI agent Dutch Rivers, has a new partner. When she makes fun of Abby’s profession as a psychic, Dutch says nothing. Dutch and Abby get into a big fight. Abby has money problems, but refuses to asks her rich sister for help, so when a friend asks her to read tarot cards at a wedding and reminds her that she owes him a favor, she reluctantly agrees. When she realizes that it’s a mob wedding, she leaves. The father of the bride tracks her down and coerces her to be his psychic, which could cost her a more than she realizes.
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