Architecture and Murder

Susan Cory lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her architect husband and bossy rescue dog. Like her sleuth, she is a residential architect practicing out of a turreted office. Also, like Iris Reid, she has a brown belt in karate.

Susan grew up in New Jersey devouring mysteries. She loved seeing order restored by ingenious sleuths. But the visual arts were her medium of expression. As an Art major at Dartmouth, she imagined that designing buildings was just a larger-scaled version of creating sculpture. Susan soon discovered the many differences. At graduate school at Harvard’s G.S.D., she found a setting—insecurities and egos riding a runaway train of Design Obsession—just ripe for murder.

Conundrum and Facade are odes to Susan’s profession and all the deviously clever practitioners within it. She’s hard at work on Book 3 in the series in which Iris Reid will continue to uncover pools of evil in her world.

The mystery world is filled with sleuths who are cops, P.I.s, lawyers, bookstore owners, caterers, ministers—practitioners of every profession but Susan’s own, architecture. Aren’t we problem solvers? Don’t we find ourselves deeply enmeshed in other people’s lives? Don’t we passionately defend our beliefs? Clearly the architecture world has been ignored as a mystery setting, and architects have been neglected as sleuths and, yes, murderers. In my graduate program alone at Harvard’s G.S.D., I found a setting ripe for murder. Egos were flying, and critics would reduce sleep-deprived students to tears and screaming matches at final juries. Later, out in the real world, a tiny handful of architects would claim all the plum commissions, as a single architect each year would be awarded the Pritzker Prize, ratcheting them to Starchitect status.

Several years ago, I decided to remedy this oversight by writing the Iris Reid series. Iris designs houses in Cambridge, Ma., while her loyal Basset hound, Sheba, sleeps nearby inside the fireplace hearth. Iris spends her days hunched over a drafting table in her turreted home office, or butting heads with sexist contractors at construction sites. She spends her nights with the sexy neighborhood chef. Her loyal friend, Ellie, has her back.

I started writing the first book, Conundrum, in my head while attending my own 20th GSD reunion, reconnecting with back-stabbing, competitive classmates. (In fairness, there were plenty of nice, normal fellow students, but they aren’t as much fun to write about as the prima donnas.) In this book, Iris also returns to her 20th Architecture School reunion, only to discover the body of her former GSD boyfriend at a neo-Modernist house she’s designed. That part did not happen to me.

In the second book, Facade, Iris agrees to teach a design studio at GSD. A charismatic Dutch starchitect, also teaching that semester, lures Iris into his world. When a local schoolgirl goes missing after visiting the man’s office, Iris is his only alibi. But can she actually vouch for his innocence?

You can order the ebooks and paperbacks at:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01F6K8O2E and at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/susan+cory?_requestid=1130254
Please visit Susan at her website: http://www.susancory.com/ and tell her what you think of the books at: https://www.facebook.co/authorsusancory

Book Blitz: The Kate Clifford Mystery Series by Candace Robb

Please join author Candace Robb as her
Kate Clifford Mystery Series is featured
around the blogosphere, from May 9-24.

The Service of the Dead
by Candace Robb

Paperback Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Pegasus Books
Paperback; 256 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book One
Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

 

 

Expertly recreating the social and political upheavals of late medieval Europe, Candace Robb introduces a new series starring Kate Clifford, a woman forged on the warring northern marches of fourteenth century England.

Political unrest permeates York at the cusp of the fifteenth century, as warring factions take sides on who should be the rightful king–Richard II or his estranged, powerful cousin in exile, Henry Bolingbroke. Independent minded twenty-year-old Kate Clifford is struggling to dig out from beneath the debt left by her late husband. Determined to find a way to be secure in her own wealth and establish her independence in a male dominated society, Kate turns one of her properties near the minster into a guest house and sets up a business. In a dance of power, she also quietly rents the discreet bedchambers to the wealthy, powerful merchants of York for nights with their mistresses.

But the brutal murder of a mysterious guest and the disappearance of his companion for the evening threatens all that Kate has built. Before others in town hear word of a looming scandal, she must call upon all of her hard-won survival skills to save herself from ruin.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise for The Service of the Dead

“Robb’s deft hand creates a realistic political and
commercial climate as King Richard II’s reign draws
to a close in 1399. Comparable to Sara Poole’s Poisoner
mysteries and Ariana Franklin’s Adelia Aguilar series, with its
strong political setting and multiple plot strands.” (Booklist)

“A historical novel that deftly captures politics and
interactions between different social interests in late
medieval England…against the backdrop of social
pressures and military actions, Kate’s character and
world shine and draw readers into her choices
and challenges.” (California Bookwatch)

“Kate Clifford is a wonderful creation, hard-nosed in
some respects, compassionate and caring on the other.
I look forward to the next installment of this delightful
series!” (Historical Novels Review)

“The novel resonates with its compelling portrayal
of an England on the brink of crisis.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The Service of the Dead is a tasty brew of political
intrigue, larceny, and murder set within the walls
of medieval York. Candace Robb’s latest historical
mystery is steeped in the atmosphere of the late fourteenth
century, and in Kate Clifford she’s given us a no-nonsense
heroine and sleuth who is not only smart, but fierce when
those she cares about are threatened. You’re going to
love her.” (Patricia Bracewell, author of the
Emma of Normandy Trilogy)

“The Service of the Dead by Candace Robb is a strikingly
well-crafted novel that is a compelling page-turner from
beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community
library historical fiction collections.” (Midwest Book Review)

A Twisted Vengeance
by Candace Robb

Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Pegasus Books
Hardcover; 400 Pages

Series: Kate Clifford Mysteries, Book Two
Genre: Historical/Mystery/Thriller

 

As the fourteenth century comes to a close, York seethes on the brink of civil war?and young widow Kate Clifford, struggling to keep her businesses afloat, realizes that her mother is harboring a dangerous secret…

1399. York is preparing for civil war, teeming with knights and their armed retainers summoned for the city’s defense. Henry of Lancaster is rumored to have landed on the northeast coast of England, not so far from York, intent on reclaiming his inheritance, an inheritance which his cousin, King Richard, has declared forfeit.

With the city unsettled and rife with rumors, Eleanor Clifford’s abrupt return to York upon the mysterious death of her husband in Strasbourg is met with suspicion in the city. Her daughter Kate is determined to keep her distance, but it will not be easy?Eleanor has settled next door with the intention of establishing a house of beguines, or poor sisters. When one of the beguines is set upon in the night by an intruder, Kate knows that for the sake of her own reputation and the safety of her young wards she must investigate.

From the first, Eleanor is clearly frightened yet maintains a stubborn silence. The brutal murder of one of Eleanor’s servants leads Kate to suspect that her mother’s troubles have followed her from Strasbourg. Is she secretly involved in the political upheaval? When one of her wards is frightened by a too-curious stranger, Kate is desperate to draw her mother out of her silence before tragedy strikes her own household.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Praise for A Twisted Vengeance

“Lovers of Shakespeare’s Richard II will find Robb’s
intricate sequel to 2016’s The Service of the Dead a
particular treat, as it charts the course of Richard’s
downfall and his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke’s
rise through the fears and uncertainties of the residents
of the city of York in July 1399. These anxieties are
worsened by a series of strange deaths connected to the
extended family of Kate Clifford, a fierce young widow
struggling to cope with not only her own household
of jostling servants and the recently arrived illegitimate
children of her late husband but also the return of
her
quarrelsome mother, Eleanor, from Strasbourg with
religious women in tow. The character of Clifford is
compelling and finely drawn, and for those readers
who are patient enough to manage an unusually large
number of secondary characters, the answers to a series of
mysteries, starting with the reason for an intruder’s attack
on a beguine (or poor sister) in the middle of the night,
are highly satisfying.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

About the Author

Candace Robb did her graduate work in medieval literature and history, and has continued to study the period while working first as an editor of scientific publications and now for some years as a freelance writer. Candace has published 13 crime novels set in 14th century England, Wales, and Scotland. The Owen Archer series is based in York and currently extends over 10 novels beginning with THE APOTHECARY ROSE; the most recent is A VIGIL OF SPIES. The Margaret Kerr trilogy explores the early days of Scotland’s struggle again England’s King Edward I, and includes A TRUST BETRAYED, THE FIRE IN THE FLINT, and A CRUEL COURTSHIP.

Writing as Emma Campion, Candace has published historical novels about two fascinating women she encountered while researching the Owen Archer mysteries, Alice Perrers (THE KING’S MISTRESS) and Joan of Kent (A TRIPLE KNOT).

Candace was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived most of her adult life in Seattle, Washington, which she and her husband love for its combination of natural beauty and culture. Candace enjoys walking, hiking, and gardening, and practices yoga and vipassana meditation. She travels frequently to Great Britain.

For more information, please visit Candace Robb’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, May 9
Passages to the Past

Wednesday, May 10
The Reading Queen

Thursday, May 11
Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings
The Paperback Princess

Friday, May 12
Jo’s Book Blog

Saturday, May 13
The Never Ending Book

Monday, May 15
A Book Geek

Tuesday, May 16
So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, May 17
Book Nerd

Friday, May 19
Books, Dreams, Life

Saturday, May 20
Buried Under Books

Monday, May 22
The Book Junkie Reads

Tuesday, May 23
The Lit Bitch
A Literary Vacation

Wednesday, May 24
T’s Stuff

The Line Between Research and Literary License—and a Giveaway!

Lauren and Gnarly

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Killer in the Band is the third installment in the Lovers in Crime Mystery series.

In addition to her series set in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, Lauren Carr has also written the Mac Faraday Mysteries, set on Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland, and the Thorny Rose Mysteries, set in Washington DC. The second installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries, which features Joshua Thornton’s son Murphy and Jessica Faraday, Mac’s daughter, A Fine Year for Murder, was released in January 2017.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. Visit Lauren Carr’s website at http://www.mysterylady.net to learn more about Lauren and her upcoming mysteries.

Fiction is a work of the imagination. You won’t get an argument from me on that.  Even so, that doesn’t mean fiction writers should let their imaginations run so wild that they begin stretching the facts.  Every time they do, they’re betting on the reader to stretch his or her imagination just to accommodate them – it’s a risk that rarely ever pans out.

What’s the best way to establish the reader’s trust in the story’s narrator?  Keeping the facts straight.  State flat out falsehoods or portray your characters as lacking knowledge of the very basics in their professions and the writer is viewed as either ignorant or lazy. Either way, the writer loses their readers’ trust with something that could be so easily fixed.

Yet, on the other hand, fiction writers can’t allow themselves to get so bogged down with having every fact so perfectly straight that their imagination ends up hog-tied—rendering them unable to write.

Do I get hung up on research? It depends on the area of detail in question. There are some areas of research that are in actuality “moving targets.” It is a waste of time for writers to sweat over intricate details that could possibly be obsolete before their book’s release. State gun laws is an excellent example. Federal and state gun laws are always changing.

The Mac Faraday mystery series is set in Maryland, which has one of the strictest gun laws in the country. However, readers will notice that Mac Faraday and other characters freely carry concealed weapons, which is illegal in that state. If I was to have each of these characters follow the letter of the law, they would need to stop before crossing state lines to lock up their guns and go through other procedures, weighing down the plot with minute details that have nothing to do with moving the story forward—all in the name of keeping the facts straight.

But then, what if Maryland’s gun laws were to change a few years later? My characters’ actions would then appear silly and unnecessary. For that reason, as a writer, I have chosen to completely ignore the whole issue.

I knew I had my work cut out for me when I started working on Kill and Run. Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, and Jessica Faraday, daughter of multi-millionaire detective Mac Faraday, the protagonist from my mystery series set in Deep Creek Lake, are of a younger generation. Not only that, but they live in Washington, DC, which is nothing like the resort town of Deep Creek Lake, where my family vacations, or the small town of Chester, West Virginia, the setting for my Lovers in Crime Mysteries. I grew up in Chester and still have family living there.

Yet, I was not completely lost. As a former editor for the federal government, I had lived and worked in the Washington, DC area for over ten years. No weekend was complete without hitting the downtown clubs on Saturday night. It wasn’t hard for me to rekindle the fast-paced excitement of big city life—with which I was very familiar.

While I hadn’t been inside the Pentagon since I was a federal bureaucrat, luckily I still had several sources within the military. When I met my husband, he was a naval officer stationed at the Pentagon. As a former federal employee, I had worked in several places around Washington. I knew the basic security procedures for entering and leaving federal buildings. For example, at one point, Murphy needs to escort a witness to his office. In order to take her into the building, he needs to get her a visitor’s badge. Later, when he must go into a meeting, he has to hand her off to an escort who has security clearances.

The most difficult research I encountered in Kill and Run was the military officers’ spouses’ clubs. Jessica Faraday is active in the navy officers’ wives’ club, and one of the murder victims is active in the army counterpart. Therefore, I needed to know how such clubs work. When my husband had been in the navy, I never joined. I requested information from a club that I found on the Internet, but received no reply. So, I had to rely on information from a friend who had been active in a branch while she and her husband were stationed overseas. Since the club in Kill and Run was made up of mostly women, I modeled the social hierarchy and tone of other women’s social clubs that I was familiar with.

Yet, I have come to learn that no matter how much I research the people, places, and things for a book, there are going to be readers who, if they want to find fault, will find it. You’d be surprised about what some readers with too much time on their hands will go to the trouble of contacting authors.

In one scene in It’s Murder, My Son, Mac Faraday goes to the Spencer Inn, the five-star inn he had inherited from his birth mother. During this scene, he is served a five-hundred dollar bottle of champagne, which I had researched online—copying and pasting the name and describing the bottle in detail from a picture on the website where it could be purchased. I described how the wine steward had served the bottle—modeling this on how I have been served by wine stewards in fine restaurants.

Within a month of It’s Murder, My Son’s release, I received a phone call from a reader telling me that scene was wrong! The reader went to the trouble of hunting down my phone number to call me. I’m still not sure what was wrong, but, after getting over the shock, I explained that I modeled the scene from when I myself had been served wine in fine restaurants, to which the reader replied, “Those weren’t five-star restaurants!”

But wait, there’s more! Remember the five hundred dollar bottle of champagne which I hunted down online—complete with a picture of the bottle and a “buy now” button to purchase? Two and a half years after book’s release, I get an email from a reader claiming that champagne did not exist. The winery doesn’t make champagne. Well, with a scoff I went online to try to find it so I could send him a link. But couldn’t find the site.

Oh, well. That was where I learned a lesson about fiction writing and research. There’s a reason authors have literary license. It is silly for writers to allow themselves to get so bogged down researching every minute little fact in order to make everything precisely accurate to appease readers who get their jollies out of finding mistakes. Unless that detail has a direct effect on the plotline, it doesn’t really matter. So what if the wine steward was not perfect? He had no role in committing or solving the mystery. So what if that winery did not make champagne? It still tasted good in Mac’s world.

I don’t have time for that.

Do I fudge on the facts? Yep! I admit it. Every writer has to sometimes. In doing so, I draw upon what information I was able to gather and fill in the blanks while trying to keep it believable. For example, in Kill and Run, readers will meet the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for whom Murphy directly works. The chair of the Joint Chiefs is General Maxine Raleigh, USAF. Yep, she’s a woman! Not only is she on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but she is the chair. To date, a woman has never been appointed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When I was researching this, one of my sources said that was not believable, to which I replied, “This is my world and, in my world, women can be appointed chair to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Also, in my world, wine stewards are less than perfect while serving five hundred dollar bottles of champagne that don’t really exist.

Check out Lauren Carr’s
Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One lucky reader here will win three
downloadable audiobooks of the
Thorny Rose Mysteries—Three
Days to Forever, Kill and Run,
and A Fine Year for Murder. Just
leave a comment below pointing
out a factual error that you
have found in a book—but not any
found in a Lauren Carr mystery!
The winning name will be drawn
Monday evening, May 22nd.

Book Review: Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal—and a Giveaway!

Murder Between the Lines
A Kitty Weeks Mystery #2
Radha Vatsal
Sourcebooks Landmark, May 2017
ISBN 978-1-4926-3892-6
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Intrepid journalist Kitty Weeks returns in the second book in this acclaimed WW1-era historical mystery series to investigate the death of a boarding school student.

When Kitty’s latest assignment for the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page takes her to Westfield Hall, she expects to find an orderly establishment teaching French and dancing-but there’s more going on at the school than initially meets the eye.

Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctor’s proclaim that the girl’s sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn’t so sure.

Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty must investigate a more chilling scenario-a murder that may involve Elspeth’s scientist father and a new invention by a man named Thomas Edison.

The early 1900’s have always been a favorite historical period for me with its blend of innocence and the beginnings of the fights for social justice, whether it be the push for women’s rights or perhaps the protection of workers, adults and children. Murder Between the Lines has all the charm and interesting setting I look for in this type of historical.

Kitty Weeks is a natural if unintended sleuth in her zeal to be a “real” reporter and perhaps find justice for those in need and her editor has agreed to let her do more than cover society. A country with high-flying ideals on the precipice of war and coping with suffragettes and the like presents plenty of opportunity for Kitty, herself a wealthy member of society, but she’s drawn to the death of a young lady, a death she finds quite suspicious even after it’s ruled accidental. Kitty had met Elspeth while doing a piece on her boarding school and found her focus on scientific matters most interesting but wonders if that could have led to her death.

With an easy pace and an appealing protagonist determined to solve an engaging puzzle, Ms. Vatsal kept me entertained and following Kitty down several paths before  finally reaching a solution. I thoroughly enjoyed my first adventure with this intrepid young woman and really appreciated the author’s attention to the details of the period. While she’s perhaps not as well-developed a character as I would like, Kitty’s intelligence and her own reactions to the issues of her day make her a young woman I want to meet again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2017.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To enter the drawing for print
copies of both Murder Between
the Lines and A Front Page Affair,
the first book, leave a
comment below.
The winning name
will be drawn
Sunday evening,
May 21st. Open to
residents
of the US and Canada.

Waiting On Wednesday (68)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Another Man’s Ground
Sheriff Hank Worth Mysteries #2
Claire Booth
Minotaur Books, July 2017
Mystery, Police Procedural

From the publisher—

It starts out as an interesting little theft case. Branson, Missouri’s new Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at stands of trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the property owner had planned to harvest for the booming herbal supplement market. At first, Hank easily balances the demands of the investigation with his fledging political career. He was appointed several months earlier to the vacant sheriff position, but he needs to win the fast-approaching election in order to keep his job. He thinks the campaign will go well, as long as he’s able to keep secret the fact that a group of undocumented immigrants – hired to cut down the stripped trees – have fled into the forest and he’s deliberately not looking for them.

But then the discovery of a murder victim deep in the Ozark backwoods sets him in the middle of a generations-old feud that explodes into danger not only for him, but also for the immigrants, his deputies, and his family. He must rush to find a murderer before election day, and protect the vulnerable in Branson County, where politicking is hell and trespassing can get you killed.

Why am I waiting so eagerly? The first book in the series, The Branson Beauty, was one of my favorite books read in 2016 and I won’t be surprised if this one makes my 2017 list. Hank Worthy is a cop I really appreciate and he’s surrounded by a nifty cast, a mix of normal and quirky. I can hardly wait to see what’s up next.

Sometimes I Wonder Why I Didn’t Quit Long Ago

Billie Johnson and Marilyn Meredith

F. M. Meredith lived for many years in a small beach community much like Rocky Bluff. She has many relatives and friends who are in law enforcement and share their experiences and expertise with her. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com
Blog: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/marilynmeredith

From the beginning the Rocky Bluff P.D. series faced one problem after another.

The first publisher to accept Final Respects, #1 in the series, was an e-publisher. I found the publishing information in Writers Digest Marketplace, and there was no mention of it only publishing electronically, only that police procedurals were wanted. At that time not many people knew anything about e-books and there was no such thing as an e-reader. The idea was to download the book to read on one’s computer. The big problem was trying to figure out how to download it. Needless to say, that publishing attempt was soon over.

Later on, I found a publisher who published in paper and as e-books. The books looked great, and ultimately the first two in the series were published. The problem here was I never got a single royalty. I knew books were being sold, reviews appeared in various places. When I finally complained (yes, I know, I waited for much too long a time), I received a check for a really small amount of money. I asked for my rights back.

Butch Sound Asleep

Next publisher was recommended by an author friend. Two titles were published and the books looked great. Again no royalties, but before I could complain, the publisher went out of business.

I met the Oak Tree Publisher at several conferences, traveled back to her headquarters to  present a class at a conference she organized, and she offered me a contract for #5 in the series—plus promised to republish the earlier books which happened. We not only had a great business relationship but became friends. She continued to publish the next books in the series, and yes, I received royalties.

Tragedy struck. The OTP publisher suffered a debilitating illness and there was no one ready to take her place. She is recovering, but it may take a long time. At this point, I figured the end had finally come for the RBPD series.

Michael Orenduff offered to have his publishing house go ahead with any books that were in line to be published by OTP with the stipulation, that authors could return if and when OTP is back in business. I hadn’t even finished writing the next book in the series when he made his offer. But I finished the book, had it edited, then asked Mr. Orenduff if he’d be interested in publishing it.

He said “yes” and now it’s a reality–#13 in the series, Unresolved is now available in all the usual places.

F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#13 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Unresolved

Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.

Book Review: The Mask of Sanity by Jacob M. Appel

The Mask of Sanity
Jacob M. Appel
Permanent Press, March 2017
ISBN: 978-1-57962-495-8
Hardcover

From the publisher:  On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters.   On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath – – a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society.  As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others.  When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity.  At a cultural moment when the media bombards us with images of so-called “sociopaths” who strive for good and criminals redeemed by repentance, The Mask of Sanity offers an antidote to implausible tales of “evil gone right.”  In contrast to fictional predecessors like Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov and Camus’ Mersault, Dr. Balint is a man who already “has it all” – – and will do everything in his power, no matter how immoral, to keep what he has.

The author’s Foreward lets us know immediately the source of the title phrase:  “I have come to know a number of individuals who wear . . . ‘The Mask of Sanity,’ yet at their cores proved incapable of feeling empathy or compassion for their fellow human beings. . . Only recently, especially as a result of the exposure of gross misdeeds in the financial services industry and of large-scale Ponzi schemes, has the public become aware that many amoral individuals lurk in the highest echelons of power, be it business, law, and even in medicine.  They are all around us, smiling and perpetrating evil.”  Himself an attorney, physician and bioethicist, the author obviously knows whereof he speaks.  And then he introduces us to Dr. Balint.

Married to his wife, Amanda, for 9 years, and with two daughters he adores, at 47 he has just been appointed chief of cardiology, the youngest in the hospital’s history to have that distinction.  He has known the man he now discovers to be his wife’s lover is a man with whom he attended Columbia and then medical school, and is now a transplant surgeon at the same hospital as he.  He becomes obsessed with killing the man.  And not getting caught.  “Inevitably, avoiding detection meant selecting additional targets.”

Not a page-turner in the usual sense of the word (i.e., taut suspense), the plot nonetheless pushes the reader to keep reading to see how it will unfold, and I rather unexpectedly found myself unable to put it down, consuming the novel in less than 36 hours.  The final page will leave you, as it did me, startled, if not shocked, and saying “WHAT??”

This is a novel that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go.  It is, obviously, highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2017.