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Poisoned Pen Press, Feb 3 2015, $14.95
Early in the morning, the Great Valentina
performs an act seeking to find a missing rabbit to pull out of a hat. However, someone steals the donations because
her “hat man” Jeff failed to protect the loot and the twenty-something magician
overhears a teenage “Anime” girl mention Beth Hull to her father. Shocked Valentine
Hill knows the name Beth Hull intimately though has not seen her Mommy Dearest Elizabeth Hill, who uses that alias in her cons,
in almost a decade. Valentine
chats with Ashley but ignores the dad whom she catalogues as a “Creep” rather
than an “Uncle”. Ashley tells her that
her father’s public girlfriend Beth lives in San Francisco. Jeff arrives to say he is playing a gig in
Berkley, but Valentine rejects him.
Afterward she arrives home to find Jeff ransacked her room and took her
In Pacific Heights, Valentine goes to see her
mom only to be stopped by all muscle no brain Dwayne. When she awakens from a beating lying near a
corpse, FBI Agent Eugenia Philips takes her to her next door apartment where
they chat re Beth. Trusting no one, she escapes from Phil only to end up in a
SFPD car with Homicide Inspector Lopez interrogating her.
The above paragraphs represent parts of the
first two chapters in perhaps the most action-packed crime thriller in
years. Over the top of Lafayette Park, but filled with numerous taut twists and red herrings, and
starring a great protagonist (mindful of the leads in Now You See Me), the misnamed Magician's Daughter is a spectacular first Valentine Hill
Pocket Books, Oct 28 2014, $7.99
Maggie Grady and her widowed Aunt Clara own Pie in the Sky in
Durham, North Carolina. The business is
booming and both females have boyfriends.
Maggie met hers, reporter Ryan Summerour, when he worked on the homicide of her former New
York boss (see Plum Deadly); while Aunt Clara’s Donald Wickerson is
a steady customer.
Ryan writes an exposé on Donald suspected of killing several
wealthy wives in what seemed like coincidental accidents that enabled him to inherit
their money. Clara reads Ryan’s article
and rejects it as her Donald is sweet and kind and ergo no way a murdering
widower. When someone kills Donald in
the Pie in the Sky, Maggie knows that DPD will look closely at her beloved aunt
as the prime suspect just as they named her when her boss’ body was left by the
pie shop’s back door (see Plum Deadly). With Ryan at her side she investigates
the homicide only to seemingly find enough people with revenge motives to fill
Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The second Pie Shop mystery is an entertaining culinary cozy with
a dynamic witty lead sleuths, denier Aunt Clara and several viable suspects
filled with rage at the apparent uxoricide serial killer.
Team Grant provides the audience with a winning regional investigative whodunit.
Harlequin HQN, Oct 28 2014, $7.99
In Europe, eighteen year old model Evelyn Maslin returns home to
find a DVD apparently sent to her by her family in Seattle. When she plays it, she observes the vicious
slaughtering of her parents and her fourteen years old sister. Numb but she prays this is a cruel prank
until Police Detective Nikols calls to inform her that her family is dead.
Fifteen years later, having changed her surname and motivated by
the slaughter of her family, Seattle Detective Evelyn Davis now is considered
the top profiler in the department, reinforced by the horrible Langdon
homicides. She keeps her distance from
everyone, but her partner Ryan O’Neil, his wife Kate and their children welcome
her as a favorite “relative”. Dinner
with the O’Neil brood ends when their supervisor Captain Kessler tells them
Chief Diaz wants them working a family annihilator case on Mercer Island, the
second in two weeks there. Due to the
mayor’s request, FBI Special Agent Marcus Moretti joins the investigative team. He provides information on the deaths of the
Garland and Middleton family who both had two young daughters. Marcus conceals one thing from Evelyn; that
he wants her on his special task force.
As they work the case that turns Deja vu personal, the Fed and the local
officer fall in love.
Dead Don't Lie is a taut police procedural that grips the audience
from the first family invasion until the final confrontation. Readers will respect Evelyn and admire caring
Marcus even while the serial killer pushes the
heroine’s buttons into mental freefall.
Although the love subplot is unnecessary, this is a tremendous romantic
Pinnacle, Oct 28 2014, $9.99
In Port Orchard, Washington, on a nature hike in Banner Forest, an
Olally Elementary school sixth grader finds a human foot. Sheriff’s Detective Kendall Stark and Kitsap
County Forensic Pathologist Birdy Waterman look into what
happened that led to a severed body part.
The rest of the person is not found nearby and remains missing. Birdy believes an animal ripped the foot off
of a probably dead teenage girl.
Birdy’s sixteen year old nephew Elan asks to stay with his aunt for a while as
he left his home after seeing his mom in his bed with her lover. At about the same time Elan came to Port
Orchard, Ted Roberts dies suspiciously with the pathologist thinking his wife
Jennifer poisoned him. Thus Birdy heads
to Arizona to exhume and test the body of Jennifer’s first husband for
poison. Extreme Hoarder Tess “The Mess”
Montgomery reports her high school daughter Darby missing to the Sheriff’s
Department; and soon afterward dirt biker and Afghanistan war veteran Marvin
Best finds a corpse with one foot missing in a garbage bag. Investigating Darby’s homicide, Stark and
Waterman follow clues leading to a fired prison guard and an extreme narcissist
serial killer convict with raging grudges towards Tess.
The first Waterman and Stark police procedural is a fabulous
investigative mystery with a three-dimensional cast involved in several
dysfunctional relationships (by far the most positive is the friendship and mutual
respect between the two investigators). Filled
with twists, especially an astonishing unexpected but plausible climatic spin,
readers will appreciate the detective and the pathologist working together on
Morrow, Oct 21 2014, $28.99
After a century of civil war, the adversarial Egyptian kingdoms
face a deadly invasion from the Steppes.
The Hyksos horde defeated the Northern Kingdom and begun the assault on
the Southern nation driving the people away from the Nile into the wilderness. At Thebes, the Egyptian army defeated the Hyksos
stopping further incursion, but the invaders occupy all of the North and parts
of the Southern Kingdom preparing for King Salitis to renew the conquest.
Desperate Pharaoh Tamose turns to his top advisor, former slave Taita
the eunuch, for guidance. The geographical
edge resides with the enemy as Taita realizes his kingdom controls no Great Sea
ports. Thus he informs the Pharaoh that
the only way to beat the enemy is an alliance with the Sumerians and Cretans;
though the latter already is allied with the Hyksos. To anchor the pact, Taita persuades Tamos to
offer in marriage his royal daughters, sixteen years old Tehuti and her
fourteen years old younger sister Bekatha, to Crete’s Supreme Minos. Accepting the plan, Tamos assigns Taita to
safely escort the princesses to Crete.
As they travel the dangerous bloody trek with external and internal
threats assaulting them, Tehuti informs Taita that there is a slight problem.
Desert God continues the engaging adventures of Taita (see River God and Warlock, etc.) in a fast-paced storyline that combines a strong sense of
time and place with plenty of gory action.
The lead eunuch and princesses are fully developed with Taita somewhat a
father figure to the royals; while he ironically misses the obvious that the audience
will anticipate. The well-written ending
is a fine mystical finish to another pleasurable Novel of
Pinnacle, Sep 30 2014, $9.99
In Creighton, Maine, former cop turned Q&A
Investigative Agency chief Frank Quinn and law enforcement with their dogs in
pursuit feel they have the D.O.A. serial killer trapped. As he flees, D.O.A. shoots Quinn in the back
near Creighton Lake before taking off in his nearby plane. However, his escape ends abruptly when the
plane explodes killing the psychopath.
Two years later in a New York hotel, the NYPD
Commissioner Renz hires Q&A to investigate the mass murders of five teenage
students and their twenty something art teacher in the Fairchild Hotel. Each of the six victims had the initials
D.O.A. carved into their head. Quinn
realizes that the victims, on a field trip from Ohio, had the misfortunate to
meet still alive D.O.A. With the
gauntlet tossed, Quinn and D.O.A. make the rematch personal.
The latest Frank Quinn and Associates (though the
A plays a smaller role than usual) investigative tale (see Twist) is an
action-packed over the top of the Empire State Building big cat and big cat
thriller. Although the switching between
the present in NYC, two years ago in Maine, 1992 Sarasota and 1940 Dunkirk
initially is confusing, readers will anticipate the stratospheric testosterone
Agatha Christie The Monogram Murders
Sep 9 2014, $25.99
1929 London, Belgium refugee Hercule Poirot enjoys a late supper as the only
patron at the Pleasant’s Coffee House. A
distraught woman enters the restaurant allowing wintry air inside. Employee “Flyaway Hair” knows this troubled
female Jennie who orders tea.
Introducing himself as a detective, Poirot offers to help her; but
Jennie insists it is too late as she is dead and no one should look for the
culprit before she makes a rushed exit.
Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool investigates the murders of three people at the
Two women and a man died from poisoning and inside their
respective mouths is a monogrammed gold cuff link. Due to Jennie’s lament not to open their
mouths, Poirot believes the mass murders and the disturbed female who ruined
his mellow dinner are part of the same case.
enjoyable Monogram Murders is a pleasant Poirot
mystery in which for the most part Sophie Hannah captures the essence of Agatha
Christie’s classic sleuth and the era he did his mojo. Readers will like the Depression Era English whodunit
though purists will miss Hastings since Catchpool replaces him as the narrator;
personally I do not like either of these Dr. Watson wannabees.