Book Reviews: Desolation Row by Kay Kendall and The Money Kill by Katia Lief

Desolation RowDesolation Row
An Austin Starr Mystery
Kay Kendall
Stairway Press, March 2013
ISBN 978-0-9859942-1-1
Trade Paperback

Late 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy have been assassinated. Nixon is about to become President. And of course, the war in Vietnam tops the news reports. However, this murder mystery is not set in wild San Francisco or Washington, D.C. Rather, we head to Toronto to view the lives of two young people caught up in trying to attend graduate school, stay involved in the anti-war effort, and save themselves from a killer.

Only four months into her move to Canada with her husband who is hoping to avoid being drafted, Austin Starr literally trips over a dead body in a church. The victim was also part of the anti-war contingent and there were plenty of people who didn’t like him. He was also the son of a powerful U.S. Senator. Unfortunately for Starr, her husband, David, becomes the main suspect. When Starr finds no assistance from authority, and with the assistance of her Russian professor and his daughter, she determines to solve the case herself. And of course, the closer she gets to the killer, the more dangerous life becomes for her.

Starr is a fascinating character. Texas raised with a very short stint in training for the CIA, loves to accumulate data and solve puzzles. She’s not the stereotypical ‘hippie’ expected in a story set in the sixties. There’s a pretty good feel of Canada and the culture of the time. Starr can stick around and hopefully star in a few more mysteries from the sixties. Looking forward to going back.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, August 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.


The Money KillThe Money Kill
Katia Lief
Harper, April 2013
ISBN No. 978-0-06-209697-5
Mass Market Paperback

Karin Schaeffer and her husband, Mac MacLeary, are just beginning to feel like a normal, married couple.  The terrors that invaded their lives on more than one occasion have now been put behind them.  Mac is running a private investigation agency and Karin is working with him.  The children are happy and life is good.

When Cathy Millerhausen hires Mac to investigate her husband billionaire,  Godfrey Millerhousen, Mac agrees.  Cathy fears that Godfrey is unfaithful and if a divorce is in the future, she is afraid that her income will not be sufficient to cover the cost for their son’s special needs treatments.

Mac has become convinced that Mary’s fears of Godfrey’s unfaithfulness are unfounded and so when he is offered a job in London with a large paycheck he puts the Millerhausen case on hold.  The offer of a family vacation on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia is part of the deal making it extra hard to pass up.  Mac and Karin agree to swap houses with the Sardinia family.

Mac’s assistant Mary and her son Fremont take the children and go ahead to Sardinia to wait for Mac and Karin.  Although at first it seems like paradise, strange things begin to happen.  Mac and Karin lose contact with Mary and the children.  They have disappeared and Mac and Karin risk everything to locate their family. Once again, their family is in turmoil.

Katia Lief‘s books are always full of suspense so be ready to keep the pages turning swiftly once you pick up a Lief book.  Previous books are You Are Next, Next Time You See Me and Vanishing Girls.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April 2013.