Wednesday, September 29, 2010

'Fools Rush In', Sunny Frazier; 2010, Oak Tree Press

Office Assistant III Christy Bristol is at her desk in the sheriff's department substation on a sweltering hot day. Her ex-boyfriend, Wolfe, an undercover narcotics detective, arrives to ask for her help. Wolfe's snitch has been murdered and he wants her help to find the prime suspect, but he wants Christy to use her astrological skills. In the past, he always made fun of her charting horoscopes so she knows he is desperate. She agrees to help Wolfe but doesn't realize until it's too late the real danger she is in as well as her fearful, frightening introduction to narcotics traffiking. Christy sees the drug world up close and it is a place she never wants to revisit.

Sunny Frazier has introduced readers to the world of astrology in 'Fools Rush In', with Christy Bristol engaging in charting. Frazier depicts the decadence of the gloomy, dark world of drugs with intrigue and portrays a blatant disrespect of the underworld's moral values. I found 'Fools Rush In' a bit disturbing but I credit Sunny Frazier's skillful writing about this subject.

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book provided by publisher

Sunday, September 26, 2010

'Last Writes', Sheila Lowe; July 2010, Obsidian Div. of Penguin Group

Claudia Rose, a forensic handwriting expert,is looking at a photograph of an angelic looking toddler girl. Her friend Kelly Brennan has just found out that she has a niece from her half sister, Erin Powers, whom she has not seen in almost 20 years and arrives on her doorstep asking for help. Kylie Powers is the little girl in the picture; her mother and father have been members of the Temple of Brighter Light and living secluded lives in a compound. Now Erin's husband and daughter have disappeared leaving a mysterious note with a frightening message. Outsiders are rarely invited to the compound but Claudia makes an impression on Brother Stedman, the leader, at a rally and she and Kelly are invited to the compound. Claudia will be doing handwriting analyses for Stedman and hopes that between her and Kelly they will discover the truth about the disappearance of Kelly's niece Kylie.

'Last Writes' is a page turner that keeps the reader in suspense to the very end. Sheila Lowe has written a solidly crafted plot with intriguing characters in a complex mystery. Lowe delves into personalities through her handwriting analyses giving readers insight of the art. Lowe has filled 'Last Writes' with surprises throughout the book that caught me off-guard and intensified my interest. Sheila Lowe has a dynamic book with 'Last Writes'.

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book provided by publisher

Saturday, September 25, 2010

'A Sporting Murder', Chester D. Campbell; 2010, Night Shadows Press, LLC

Greg and Jill McKenzie are hired to investigate talk around Nashville that something illicit is implicated with a transaction to bring an NBA basketball team to Nashville. Their client is attorney Terry Tremont who is retained by a group of Nashville Predators' hockey fans that want to block the businessmen from bringing in an NBA team. The clients believe that football and hockey are enough teams. Greg receives a call from Arnold Wechsel, a nephew of an old Air Force colleague; Arnold wants to meet with Greg that evening and says he has information about the NBA matter that will blow Greg's mind. Greg has bad vibes about the call as well as the meeting that are verified when he discovers Arnold's body. Circumstances become more deadly and Greg believes that he and Jill's lives are in jeopardy. What a way to spend the week before Christmas!

Campbell's main characters, Jill and Greg, are a very likeable and sensible duo that the reader can connect with very easily. 'A Sporting Murder' has an uncommon plot that reveals the talents of Campbell as he weaves through his storyline with his wealth of information. 'A Sporting Murder' is aptly named and once again Chester D. Campbell is skillful at writing another first-rate mystery.

FTC: Full disclosure: Book provided by author

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

'Genteel Spirits', Alice Duncan, July, 2011, Five Star/Cengage

It's the Prohibition Era, 1922, in Pasadena, California, and Daisy Gumm Majesty's spritualist business is in a slump while her major client is out of town. Desdemona is her professional name which she gave herself at age 10. One evening Daisy answers the phone and Gladys Pennywhistle, with whom she had gone to school, is looking for Desdemona, the spiritualist. Daisy is shocked because she remembers Gladys as a very serious person with no sense of humor. Gladys works as secretary for Mrs. Lurlene Winkworth, an elderly southern belle, grandmother of movie star Monty Montgomery; Monty is a close friend of Harold Kincaid, Daisy's best friend. Lurlene wants to book Desdemona for a seance and Daisy accepts, excited at the prospect of meeting Monty and starlet Lola de la Monica who are in town for the filming of a movie at the mansion. Upon her arrival at the mansion for the seance, Harold meets her and tells her he needs her help before she goes to work. Monty has been getting threatening letters and they want Daisy to find the culprit before Monty's career is ruined. After the seance, Lola decides she wants Daisy to be her spiritual guide during the filming of 'The Fire at Sunset'. Daisy takes on the job which becomes more trouble than she ever bargained for; and she becomes more perplexed as additional threatening letters arrive.

In 'Genteel Spirits', Alice Duncan writes Daisy's story with simplicity, directness and no pretentions. Duncan once again produces a commentary of the times touching on social and cultural issues such as the effects of WWI on the average American family; the financial depression after the war; equal pay for working women and homosexuality. Alice Duncan is a sensation at portraying characters with heart, humor and who are genuine. The pleasure in reading Alice's books is meeting up with Daisy and her family and friends again. A truly enjoyable read!

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book provided by author.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

'Fallen Angels', Alice Duncan, May, 2011; Five Star/Cengage

Mercy Allcutt has just moved to Los Angeles from Boston and lives with her sister Chloe and her husband, Harvey Nash. Mercy has secured a position as secretary to Mr. Ernest Templeton, a private investigator, and she has helped Ernie solve a few murder mysteries so the thrill of being a 'co-investigator' is in her blood. She is the first woman in her family to obtain a job, much to her Bostonian mother's outrage.
When Mercy arrives at work on Monday, her boss has left her a note that he went to see a client. But he is late for a meeting with Phil Bigelow, a detective and friend from the LAPD. After hours of waiting go by and no Ernie, Mercy decides to go to the client's house where she not only discovers a body, but Ernie, bound and gagged in the upstairs bedroom. Ernie becomes a suspect of the LAPD when Detective O'Reilly, an adversary of Ernie's, takes over the case. Mercy becomes diligent about proving Ernie's innocence and finds herself in a tangled web of deceit.

Once again, Alice Duncan provides the reader a look at the social culture of the time. In 'Fallen Angels', Duncan portrays her characters skillfully and with humor. Her Boston society view vs. Los Angeles 'society' shows her insight and knowledge.

I'm an avid Duncan fan; in 'Fallen Angels' I thought the murderer was too obvious as the main suspect in this mystery. But I truly delight in Alice's ability to add a 'slice of life' to her books!

FTC Disclosure: Book provided by author