The Last Dead Girl
Berkley Trade, October 2014
Billed as a prequel, this novel is a carefully constructed murder mystery which begins one night on a lonely dark road, a chance encounter between David Loogan, riding along in his truck, and Jana Fletcher, a young law student, standing next to her inoperable car. What follows is a brief 10-day love affair. Until one day David enters her apartment to find her lying on the living room floor, murdered.
As usual, the lead detective suspects the boyfriend, but there is no proof. Released, David is fixated on learning the truth about Jana and follows his nose, investigating her past and discovering a death in the past that might be related to hers.
The novel moves ahead straightforwardly, and the mystery unfolds so that it comes as no surprise when the killer is disclosed, but not before red herrings are introduced. It is a well-written story, well worth reading, and recommended.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2014.
The Axe Factor
A Jimm Juree Mystery #3
Minotaur, April 2014
I have enjoyed reading this author’s Dr. Siri series, so approached this new Jimm Juree Mystery with great anticipation. Unfortunately, the mystery alone is what the novel is all about. Jimm, a former high-powered crime reporter in her former habitat, now lives with her nutty family in southern Thailand where she is basically unemployed and at loose ends. That’s how one gets into trouble, and she does.
Basically, the plot is two-fold: how Jimm interviews a farang (European) writer and becomes sexually involved with him and also becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy in which a serial killer plays a part. Naturally this places Jimm in danger, while her love affair raises the suspicion of her grandfather, an ex-cop, who enlists the rest of the family to spy on the author.
Written in a light tone with many witty observances by Jimm, the novel sadly plods along and results in a slow read. It seems very unlike the author’s other efforts (especially the Dr. Siri series), which are delightful. Perhaps the next one will pull it all together.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2014.