Friday, October 29, 2010

'Murder In La-La Land', LA Sisters in Crime Anthology, 2010, Top Publications, Ltd.

'Murder In La-La Land' is an anthology of twelve mystery short stories. The authors present an interesting assortment of their works. A common thread is a melding of science fiction, fantasy and thriller with mainstreaam fiction.
Of the twelve stories, four stand out for me:

'Just Like Jay', by Pam Ripling shows humanism with a most fitting ending.

'Blonde Have More Fun' by Jane DiLucchio was my favorite. Two friends Diega and Marjorie are out celebrating Marjorie's final divorce decree and they are at a gay bar. For a ten page story, this one has humor and a surprise ending which knocked my socks off. DiLucchio has written a concise story that truly holds your interest. I just loved this one!

'This I Know', by Kathy Kingston is a cleverly concocted story taking place at a Halloween costume party and Kingston has not given names to the main characters, a delightful change that really works. 'This I Know' deals with domestic violence and Kingston certainly pulls of a pleasant surprise in her story. Great work!

'Mrs. Spacek' by Lenore Carlson

Mrs. Spacek has just lost her son Bobby, who supposedly fell of a cliff he visited often. She is calm and beautiful and Detective Lim is quite impressed with her acceptance of her son's death. Seems Bobby was almost 20 and his girlfriend Isabel Garcia only 13. Strange. Justice is done in Carlson's story with perception and understanding. I especially enjoyed the portrayal of her characters who had great diversity as well as being compassionate.

'Average Monster, Gabriel Vazquez, left me hanging.
'Death is Golden', Jude McGee, had major revenge as its theme.

This is my first anthology review and it was a nice change of pace, especially the four I chose as my favorites.

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book Provided by one of the authors

Thursday, October 21, 2010

'Absolution', Susan Fleet; 2008, Self-Published

In New Orleans, a psychotic killer is murdering women and removing trophies from them. New Orleans Police Department homicide detective Frank Renzi joins up with Rona Jefferson, an African-American journalist in his determination to apprehend this monster. Rona believes that too many black males are immediate suspects of the police department. A tip leads them down an unusual and surprising road. When the police begin to close in on the murderer, he gets to know an emotionally broken and weak teenage girl whom he convinces to run away with him. So now they're on the run with the police in pursuit when things really heat up.

For me, it is hard to believe that 'Absolution' is a first novel for Susan Fleet. Her story pulses with the experience of a career author who has written many mysteries. In 'Absolution', Fleet skillfullly introduces topics of corruption in the NOPD, racial tensions and religious conflicts while still maintaining a solid, concise and fascinating plot. She goes inside the head of the killer with a rare talent. 'Absolution' has characters that are engrossing and diversified; Fleet has done an excellent job of writing an 'I couldn't put it down' thriller.

First class writing! Hope there will be more from Susan Fleet.

FTC: Book provided by author

Friday, October 15, 2010

'The Blue Virgin', M.K. Graff; 2010, Bridle Path Press, LLC

Bryn Wallace is a beautiful model who leaves the runway to pursue photography and has a relationship with Val Rogan, a textile artist. When Bryn's body is found at her apartment, Val becomes the main suspect for Detective Inspector Declan Barnes of the Criminal Investigation Dept. Bryn and Val were heard to be arguing the night before. Nora Tierney, a close friend of Val's, returns to Oxford to help prove Val's innocence; arriving with her is Simon Ramsey, illustrator of Nora's children's book. Nora quickly becomes immersed in the murder inquiry much to the apprehension of both Barnes and Simon. A story of love and intrigue, 'The Blue Virgin' has a compelling plot. Nora discovers that simple decisions can lead to disastrous ends.

In 'The Blue Virgin', M.K. Graff situates her story in Oxford and offers her readers an inside view of Oxford with all the beauty and history it contains. Her characters are diverse, intriguing and appealing. Graff's storyline is concise without a dull moment; she is adept at producing a clever plot that left me guessing until the very end. 'The Blue Virgin' is very well-written and I enjoyed it immensely! Hope to see more of her books.

Don't miss reading this one!!

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book provided by author

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

'Live Ringer', Lynda Fitzgerald; 2010, Crystal Dreams Publishing (a division of Multi-Media Productions, Inc.)

After her divorce, Allie Grainger inherits a beach house in Cape Canaveral from her Aunt Lou and the two were extremely close. Now she has moved back and needs time to mourn and grieve and settle into a home with special memories for her. But within a day, a woman's body is found in the water at the jetty. She renews her childhood friendships with close friends Joe and Sheryl who are on the police force and they discover similar murders along Florida's coast. All the women are about the same age, blonde and divorced and bear a strong resemblance to Allie. Between Joe and the two other men Allie meets,, she believes one is the killer and starts to think she could be his next victim. Finding courage from within, Allie decides to learn the truth but as circumstances heat up, she doesn't know whom to trust.

Lynda Fitzgerald displays her love of Central Florida through her main character, Allie Grainger. 'Live Ringer' is a well-woven story with something for everyone. Along with an interesting mystery, Fitzgerald adds charm with the conversations between Allie and her Aunt Lou. Romance appears as well, but with a dose of reality which keeps the story grounded. Fitzgerald's character descriptions are brought out in friendly narrations as she subtly exposes insight into her characters' moral values. Readers will love her addition of Spook, who steals the show at times and adds humor.
'Live Ringer' is an excellent display of smooth, well-versed writing; a most enjoyable read.

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book provided by author

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

'Cursed Blessing', J.M. LeDuc; 2009, Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC

In Palm Cove, Florida, Brent Venturi has inherited and happily runs the library that has been in his family for about five generations. One morning Lucille Conklin, a cultured and friendly older woman arrives at the library with two boxes of books left specifically to Brent from her late husband, Joseph. When Brent begins to open one of the boxes, he is stunned by the contents. Now his normal and regular schedule is a thing of the past and he find his life, physically and emotionally, turned upside down. Every fact leads to more secrets, doubts and questions in a whirlwind of suspense.

A Christian thriller, 'Cursed Blessings' has an incompatibility in the storyline. At times I felt that LeDuc was inserting religion more broadly that the story called for. The praying vs. the violence was in itself a contradiction and the praying a distraction. Less prayng would give more credence to an unusual and well-written plot.

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

'Murder at Spouters Point', Leslie Wheeler; Oct., 2010, Five Star Publishing, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning

Miranda Lewis, a writer of American history books and her boyfriend Nate Barnes, a native Indian, are visiting their separate friends in Spouters Point on the Rhode Island coast. His friends are at a Native-owned gambling casino and hers are at the Maritime Museum so they are in different worlds. Erin Meloy is Miranda's close friend and engaged to George Kavanagh, a yachtsman. When George is found murdered, the lead policeman, Curtin believes that only an Indian could perpetrate such a horrible crime and casts his sights on Nate's close friend Jimmy. Nate believes his friend has been framed by prejudiced white people. Miranda's view and feelings are different leading to stress in their relationship. She seeks the truth which leads to a maze of secrets long-buried, lies and an encounter that almost costs her her life.

Leslie Wheeler offers us a look at an unusual subject: Indian-run casinos and a view of prejudice, whether in a relationship, or in general. She has writtten an intriguing plot with insight into her characters who are skillfully portrayed. 'Murder at Spouters Point' has much to offer in history, setting and relationships as well as a mystery brimming with surprises. Leslie Wheeler has written a very enjoyable book.

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book provided by author

'No Evidence of A Crime', S. Connell Vondrak; Aug. 2010, Oak Tree Press

Kathleen Jackson has been Jim Jarrod's partner in the Washington, D.C. Police Department for about six months when they are sent to investigate a homicide. The body is a beautiful young woman, a congressional aide who was shot near Capital Mall; but there are disparities with the evidence. A Glock is identified as the murder weapon, but a witness puts the shooter at too great a distance for a handgun. DNA results disclose that the woman was pregnant by a gang member yet she was well-dressed and her teeth and body in excellent condition, showing a degree of affluence. Jarrod and Jackson decide to bring in a forensic scientist and retest the samples. Now Kathleen and Jim need to discover who is meddling with the evidence and why.

Vondrak's plot in 'No Evidence of A Crime' clearly defines her knowledge of forensics and writes a fascinating story with twists and turns. She gives us a captivating, in depth and well-crafted theme offering real truths about the forensics world which I found riveting. A real page turner and a significant debut!

FTC: Full Disclosure: Book provided by publisher