Under The Eye Of Kali
Five Star, May 19 2010, $25.95
Kovalam, India is a popular tourist town as people come from around the world to visit sites like the Balabhadrakali Temple. American Anita Ray stays in the city not to sightsee, but to help her Auntie Meena run her eight-room Hotel Delite.
One of the guests, middle aged American Jean, vanishes on the same night her friend Marge is taken to the Anandabudhi Hospital after she contracts food poisoning at the Bamboo Village restaurant where Anita and her Brahmin boyfriend Anand also dined. Other guests ignore the duet as they go about their itineraries. Pam plans to visit the Suchindram Temple; Candy treks to Trivandrum; Emily wants to know more about Kali. However, Anita is concerned about Jean, who illegally was going to bring medical supplies into Myanmar. Deciding to investigate, she asks youthful assistant Peeru to watch over the photo shop she owns so she can explore the rice paddies until she learns what happened to Jean and then she must decide what to do next.
The location is excellent as this South India city comes alive to anchor this enjoyable amateur sleuth tale. Anita, apparently the star of short stories not read by me, is an obstinate American working in the land of her family, who cannot stop herself from investigating in order to catch a killer. This strong whodunit also contains a deep underlying message to embrace your heritage and not turn your back on your roots. Filled with suspense, readers will relish a trip to India during tourist season.
Simon & Schuster, Jun 8 2010, $15.00
In Los Angeles at the posh Pinnacle Hotel, Juliette Greyson heads public relations. However to get away from the coddled rich and famous, she is on vacation in her maternal family’s country Italy. In Florence, Juliette is stunned to watch druggie Mercy Talbot, an actress missing from a movie shooting in Rome, dive into a fountain. The paparazzi are too busy taking pictures to help Mercy out of the water; so Juliette pulls her out of the fountain.
Juliette takes Mercy to her family estate Cerreta just north of Florence. There the young woman seems less frantic so the filmmaking is relocated to Juliette’s estate. That is enough to irritate Juliette who needs rest on her vacation, but now Mercy’s shrew of a mom arrives demanding posh hotel treatment; as do much of the Hollywood crowd. However what is worse for Juliette is her former lover movie superstar Michael O'Connor is on location at her estate too at the same time someone is killing the pampered celebs.
The latest Greyson over the top (this time the Italian Alps rather than the Hollywood Hills - see Oscar Season) thriller is an amusing tale that lightly lampoons celebrities and their “ambulance’ chaser paparazzi. The story line is a frantic fun frolic as Juliette hopes to survive the movie world invasion of Italy that she thought she left behind in L.A.