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Newsletter #85 March May, 2009

Mystery Reviews
by Gerri Balter

        Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson ($7.99) deals with the tension between the Italians and the Irish in turn of the century New York. It begins with the death of Nainsi Ruocco, an Irish girl married to an Italian boy. She had just given birth to a baby boy. Since she and her husband were only married for 6 months and the baby is full term, the Irish believe someone in the Ruocco family killed her. Things get worse when the Ruocco family insist on keeping the baby. Sarah Brandt, the midwife, who delivered the baby, gets involved in the case as the Ruocco family keep calling her to help with the new baby. She learns that it’s not Nainsi’s husband but his sister-in-law who wants to keep the baby. She can’t have one of her own. She also learns that the Ruocco family is related to a criminal who does not want the case solved. In spite of Sergeant Frank Malloy’s advice that she shouldn’t get involved, she feels obliged to find the truth no matter who gets hurt.

        If Copper River by William Kent Krueger ($24.00 signed hc or $7.99 pb) is the first Cork O’Connor mystery you decide to read, it won’t be the last. It is a sequel to Mercy Falls ($24.00 signed hc or $7.99 pb), but you don’t have to read it first, although I suggest you do, only because, like each book in this series, it is a fantastic read.
        Cork Corcoran is hiding out from the hit men who are after him at a resort in Bodine, Michigan, owned by his cousin, Jewell Dubois. He’s recovering from a bullet wound. He’s sure no one will find him here. Unfortunately, a teenage girl’s body is found by Jewell’s teenage son, Renoir, and his friend, a teenage girl named Charlie. When everyone who has seen the body starts being attacked, Cork has to become involved. He refuses to let anything to happen to Renoir or Charlie. The problem is that becoming involved could help the hit men find out where he’s hiding, which will put Jewell and Renoir in danger as well.

        10-year-old Morgan Winter finds the body of her parents who were murdered on Christmas Eve. Dark Room by Andrea Kane ($23.95 signed hc or $7.99 pb) tells what happens when she finds out, 17 years later, that the wrong man has been convicted. She’s slowly coming to terms with what happened. She decides to hire the police officer who investigated the case, who is now a private investigator, to find the real killer. The problem is that all the suspects seem to be people who are close to her, from the people who raised her, to the people she works with. The killer is close enough to her to be able to trash both her home and her work place without taking anything, and to hit one of her clients and drive off before being seen. Morgan isn’t sure she wants to know who the killer is after a threat has been made to the people close to her. Unfortunately, it’s too late. The killer won’t stop unless caught, or until Morgan is dead.

        A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander ($13.95) takes place in England after the death of Queen Victoria’s husband. Lady Emily Ashton is also a widow. She hopes that she can get through the London season by only being invited to a few parties since she’s just out of mourning for her husband who died recently. At one of the parties she finds out that someone is stealing anything that belonged to Marie Antoinette. She thinks no more about it until Mr. Francis, one of the people who told her about it, is murdered and a piece of jewelry is stolen. Whoever is stealing the jewelry also breaks into her home on more than one occasion in spite of the police doing everything possible to protect her. Mr. Francis’ wife comes to her for help. Her maid has been arrested for the murder. Lady Ashton vows to help her. She is determined to find out who killed Mr. Francis and who is stealing the jewelry. With help from her friends, it’s up to Lady Ashton to find out the truth before the killer strikes again.

        Former homicide detective Brad Lyon and his wife Ashleigh travel to Baltimore to attend the Har-Bear Expo, a teddy bear show where Brad is going to display the first bear he has made, Dirty Beary, and his wife is going to exhibit the bears she made, each one representing a delicious dessert, in The False-Hearted Teddy by John J. Lamb ($6.99). When one of the other exhibitors is murdered, Brad is one of the suspects. He argued with her and her husband shortly before her death and he tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate her when she collapsed. The police believe he killed her, and he has to clear his name. The problem is that there is more than one person who could have killed her, including her husband, who physically abused her. Brad will do whatever necessary to find out the truth before he’s charged with the crime.

        In Fatal Feng Shui by Leslie Caine ($6.99), Erin Gilbert and Steve Sullivan are trying to work out their interior design partnership. It comes under considerable strain. They are trying to do a job for a woman who believes in feng shui and whose neighbor is using it to force her to sell him her home. When Erin’s half-brother is found dead in the woman’s home, there don’t seem to be any suspects and Erin has to convince the police that his death wasn’t an accident. When the brake lining of her car is cut and someone shoots a bullet into her bedroom, it becomes obvious to everyone that someone wants to kill Erin as well. When the woman she and Steve are doing the job for is found murdered, Erin is sure she is on the right track. Steve wants her to back off. She refuses, determined to find out who is trying to kill her no matter what the consequences are.

        The Monks’ Table in Murder at the Monks’ Table by Sister Carol Anne O’Marie ($6.99) is a restaurant in Ballyclarin, Ireland. Sister Mary Helen joins Sister Eileen in Ireland to attend the Oyster Festival, which is a week long celebration. It doesn’t take long before Willie Ward, a local newspaper man, is murdered and Sister Mary Helen finds the body in the ladies’ restroom in the Monks’ Table. The police strongly suggest she enjoy the festival and leave the investigation to them. She tries to stay out of it. Unfortunately circumstances force her to investigate when she finds two people who have been attacked and overhears others who say things that can be construed as possible motives. She can’t help trying to find out what is going out in spite of the police’s warning to stay out of it. She finds out more than she would like about the people in the small village and the reason for Willie’s death, as well as who killed him.
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