Book Review: The Deep by Alma Katsu @almakatsu @TransworldBooks @The_FFBC

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Title: The Deep
Author: Alma Katsu
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Publication date: March 10, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Dark Fantasy, Thriller

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks // Google Play
Amazon // Book Depository // Indiebound

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The Deep
Alma Katsu
Transworld Digital, March 2020
ISBN 978-0-525-53790-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner’s illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers – including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher – are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not – could not – have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .

Not too long ago, I listened to the audiobook of Alma Katsu’s The Hunger and, truthfully, I was mesmerized by the ominous atmosphere she created. That ambience comes largely from my knowing ahead of time what really happened with the Donner Party, the ineffable tragedy of it all, and the promise of The Deep was that it would give me much of the same feeling. I didn’t do audio on this one but visually reading it didn’t lessen the effect.

Was the Titanic imbued with a supernatural touch as the author suggests? Maybe, maybe not, but there is no doubt that the ship’s story is full of ghosts and belief in the occult was popular among the wealthy at the time so Ms. Katsu taking it a bit farther is not really out of line, is it? Even with a sizeable passenger list and crew, there do seem to be an inordinate number of deaths and peculiar events that the people on the voyage can’t truly explain in “normal” terms and then, of course, there is that awful night.

When stewardess Annie finds herself, four years later working as a World War I nurse on board the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, perhaps it’s not surprising that she would come across a wounded soldier who was also on the Titanic’s fateful voyage. Annie carries her own demons with her, though, so possibly her memories are tricking her into thinking that Mark can’t be there because he could not have survived the sinking. Then again…

Ms. Katsu’s real strength lies in her storytelling and on her ability to bring people and historic events to life. The Deep is a compelling tale that could, if you believe just a little, be truth and, might I add, it’s immeasurably enhanced by including a real woman, Violet Jessop, who has to be one of the luckiest seafaring women ever. Well done, Ms. Katsu!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2020.

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An Excerpt from The Deep

Chapter One

October 1916
Morninggate Asylum,
Liverpool

She is not mad.

Annie Hebbley pokes her needle into the coarse gray linen, a soft color, like the feathers of the doves that entrap themselves in the chimneys here, fluttering and crying out, sometimes battering themselves to death in a vain effort to escape.

She is not mad.

Annie’s eyes follow the needle as it runs the length of the hem, weaving in and out of fabric. In and out. In and out. Sharp and shining and so precise.

But there is something in her that is hospitable to madness.

Annie has come to understand the erratic ways of the insane-the crying fits, incoherent babblings, violent flinging of hands and feet. There is, after days and weeks and years, a kind of comforting rhythm to them. But, no, she is not one of them. Of that she is certain.

Certain as the Lord and the Blessed Virgin, her da’ might once have said.

There are a dozen female patients hunched over their sewing, making the room warm and stuffy despite the meagerness of the fire. Work is thought to be palliative to nervous disorders, so many of the inmates are given jobs, particularly those who are here due more to their own poverty than any ailment of mind or body. While most of the indigent are kept in workhouses, Annie has learned, quite a few find their way to asylums instead, if there are any empty beds to keep them. Not to mention the women of sin.

Whatever their reasons for turning up at Morninggate, most of the women here are meek enough and bend themselves to the nurses’ direction. But there are a few of whom Annie is truly afraid.

She pulls in tight to herself as she works, not wanting to brush up against them, unable to shake the suspicion that madness might pass from person to person like a disease. That it festers the way a fine mold grows inside a milk bottle left too long in the sun-undetectable at first but soon sour and corrupting, until all the milk is spoiled.

Annie sits on a hard little stool in the needle room with her morning’s labor puddled in her lap, but it is the letter tucked inside her pocket that brushes up against her thoughts unwillingly, a glowing ember burning through the linen of her dress. Annie recognized the handwriting before she even saw the name on the envelope. She has reread it now at least a dozen times. In the dark cover of night, when no one is looking, she kisses it like a crucifix.

As if drawn to the sin of Annie’s thoughts, a nurse materializes at her shoulder. Annie wonders how long she has been standing there, studying Annie. This one is new. She doesn’t know Annie yet-not well, anyway. They leave Annie to the late arrivals on staff, who haven’t yet learned to be frightened of her.

“Anne, dear, Dr. Davenport would like to see you. I’m to escort you to his office.”

Annie rises from her stool. None of the other women glance up from their sewing. The nurses never turn their backs to the patients of Morninggate, so Annie shuffles down the corridor, the nurse’s presence like a hot poker at her back. If Annie could get a moment alone, she would get rid of the letter. Stash it behind the drapes, tuck it under the carpet runner. She mustn’t let the doctor find it. Just thinking of it again sends a tingle of shame through her body.

But she is never alone at Morninggate.

In the dusty reflection of the hall windows they appear like two ghosts-Annie in her pale, dove-gray uniform, the nurse in her long cream skirt, apron, and wimple. Past a long series of closed doors, locked rooms, in which the afflicted mutter and wail.

What do they scream about? What torments them so? For some, it was gin. Others were sent here by husbands, fathers, even brothers who don’t like the way their women think, don’t like that they are outspoken. But Annie shies away from learning the stories of the truly mad. There’s undoubtedly tragedy there, and Annie’s life has had enough sadness.

The building itself is large and rambling, constructed in several stages from an old East India Company warehouse that shuttered in the 1840s. In the outdoor courtyard, where the women do their exercises in the mornings, the walls are streaked with sweat and spittle, smeared with dirty handprints and smudges of dried blood. Luckily the gaslights are kept low, for economy’s sake, giving the grime a pleasantly warm hue.

They pass the men’s wing; sometimes, Annie can hear their voices through the wall, but today they’re quiet. The men and women are kept separate because some of the women suffer from a peculiar nervous disorder that makes their blood run hot. These women cannot abide the sight of a man, will break out in tremors, try to tear off their clothes, will chew through their own tongues and fall down convulsing.

Or so they say. Annie has never seen it happen. They like to tell stories about the patients, particularly the female ones.

But Annie is safe here, from the great big world. The world of men. And that is what matters. The small rooms, the narrow confines are not so different from the old cottage in Ballintoy, four tiny rooms, the roiling Irish Sea not twenty paces from her front door. Here, the air in the courtyard is ripe with the smell of ocean, too, though if it is close by, Annie cannot see it, has not seen it in four years.

It is both a comfort and a curse. Some days, she wakes from nightmares of black water rushing into her open mouth, freezing her lungs to stone. The ocean is deep and unforgiving. Families in Ballintoy have lost fathers and brothers, sisters and daughters to the sea for as long as she can remember. She’s seen the water of the Atlantic Ocean choked with hundreds of bodies. More bodies than are buried in all of Ballintoy’s graveyard.

And yet on other days, she wakes to find plaster beneath her fingernails where she has scratched at the walls, desperate to get out, to return to it. Her blood surges through her veins with the motion of the sea. She craves it.

On the far side of the courtyard they enter the small vestibule that leads to the doctors’ private rooms. The nurse indicates that Annie should step aside as she knocks and then, at a command to enter, unlocks the door to Dr. Davenport’s office. He rises from behind his desk and gestures to a chair.

Nigel Davenport is a young man. Annie likes him, has always felt he has the well-being of his patients in mind. She’s overheard the nurses talk about how difficult it is for the parish to get doctors to remain at the asylum. Their job is discouraging when so few patients respond to treatment. Plus, it’s far more lucrative to be a family doctor, setting bones and delivering babies. He is always nice to her, if formal. Whenever he sees her, he thinks about the incident with the dove. They all do. How she was found once cradling a dead bird in her arms, cooing to it like a baby.

She knows it wasn’t a baby. It was just a bird. It had fallen out of the flue, hit the hearth in a puff of loose feathers. Dirty, sooty bird, and yet beautiful in its way. She only wanted to hold it. To have something of her own to hold.

He folds his hands and rests them on the desktop. She stares at his long fingers, the way they fold into one another. She wonders if they are strong hands. It is not the first time she has wondered this. “I heard you received another letter yesterday.”

Her heart trembles inside her chest.

“It is against our policy to intrude too much on our patients’ privacy, Annie. We don’t read patients’ mail, as they do at other homes. We are not like that here.” His smile is kind, but there is a slight furrow between his brows and Annie has the strangest urge to press her finger there, to smooth the soft flesh. But of course she would never. Voluntary touching is not allowed. “Here, you may show us only of your own free will. But you can see how these letters would be a matter of concern for us, don’t you?”

His voice is gentle, encouraging, almost a physical caress in the stillness. Bait. She remains silent, as if to speak would be to touch him back. Perhaps if she doesn’t respond, he will stop pressing. Perhaps she will vanish into air if she is quiet enough. She used to play this game all the time in the vast fields and cliffsides of Ballintoy-the recollection returns with startling clarity: the Vanishing Game. Generally, it worked. She could go whole days drifting in the meadow behind the house, imagining stories, without ever being seen or spoken to. A living phantom.

The doctor stretches his neck against his high collar. He has a good, solid neck. Hands, too. He could easily overpower her. That is probably the point of such strength. “Perhaps you would like to show it to me, Annie? For your own peace of mind? It’s not good to have secrets-secrets weigh on you, hold you down.”

She shivers. She longs to share it and burns to hide it. “It’s from a friend.”

“The friend who used to work with you aboard the passenger ship?” He pauses. “Violet, wasn’t it?”

She starts to panic. “She’s working on another ship now. She says they are in dire need of help and she wonders if I would return to service.” There. It’s out.

His dark eyes study her. She cannot resist the weight of his expectation. She has never been good at saying no; all she has ever wanted was to please people, her father, her mother. To please all of them. To be good.

Like she once was.

My good Annie, the Lord favors good girls, said her da’.

She reaches into her pocket and hands him the letter. She can hardly stand to watch him read, feeling as though it is not the letter but her own body that has been exposed.

Then he glances up at her, and slowly his mouth forms a smile.

“Don’t you see, Annie?”

She knots her hands together in her lap. “See?” She knows what he’s going to say next.

“You know that you’re not really sick, not like the others, don’t you?” He says these words kindly, as though he is trying to spare her feelings. As though she doesn’t already know it. “We debated the morality of keeping you here, but we were reluctant to discharge you because- Well, frankly, we didn’t know what to do with you.”

Annie had no recollection of her own past when she was admitted to Morninggate Asylum. She woke up in one of the narrow beds, her arms and legs bruised, not to mention the awful, aching wound on her head. A constable had found her unconscious behind a public house. She didn’t appear to be a prostitute-she was neither dressed for it nor stinking of gin.

But no one knew who she was. At the time, Annie scarcely knew herself. She couldn’t even tell them her name. The physician had no choice but to sign the court order to detain her at the asylum.

Her memory has, over time, begun to return. Not all of it, though; when she tries to recall certain things, all she gets is a blur. The night the great ship went down is, of course, cut into her memory with the prismatic perfection of solid ice. It’s what came before that feels unreal. She remembers the two men, each in their turn, though sometimes she feels as though they have braided together in her mind into just one man, or all men. And then, before that: fragments of green fields and endless sermons, intoned prayer and howling northern wind. A world too unfathomably big to comprehend.

A terrible, gaping loneliness that has been her only companion for four years.

Surely it is better to be kept safe inside this place, while the world and its secrets, its wars, its false promises, are kept away, outside the thick brick walls.

Dr. Davenport looks at her with that same wavering smile. “Don’t you think, Annie?” he is saying.

“Think what?”

“It would be wrong to keep you here, with the war on. Taking up a bed that could be used for someone who is truly unwell. There are soldiers suffering from shell shock. Everton Alley teems with poor and broken spirits, tormented by demons from their time on the battlefield.” His eyes are dark and very steady. They linger on hers. “You must write to the White Star office and ask for your old job, as your friend suggests. It’s the right thing to do under the circumstances.”

She is stunned, not by his assertions but that this is all happening so quickly. She is having trouble keeping up with his words. A slow dread creeps into her chest.

“You’re fine, my dear. You’re just scared. It’s understandable-but you’ll be right as rain once you see your friend and start working again. It’s about time, anyway, don’t you think?”

She can’t help but feel stubbornly rejected, spurned, almost. For four years, she’s managed things so that she could stay. Kept her secrets. Was careful not to disrupt anything, not to do anything wrong.

She has been so good.

Now her life, her home, the only security she knows, is being ripped away from her and she is once more being forced out into the unknown.

But there is no turning back. She knows she cannot refuse him this, cannot refuse him anything. Not when he has been so kind.

He folds up the letter and holds it out to her. Her gaze lingers on his strong hands. Her fingers brush against his when she takes it back. Forbidden.

“I should be happy to sign the release papers,” her doctor says. “Congratulations, Miss Hebbley, on your return to the world.”

3 October 1916

My dear Annie,

I hope this letter finds you. Yes, I am writing again even though I have not heard from you since the letter you sent via the White Star Line head office. You can understand why I continue to write. I pray your condition has not worsened. I was sorry to read of your current situation, although, from your letter, you do not sound unwell to me. Can you ever forgive me for losing track of you after that Terrible Night? I didn’t know if you had lived or died. I feared I would never see you again.

Excerpted from The Deep by Alma Katsu. Copyright © 2020 by Alma Katsu. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Original link: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/586714/the-deep-by-alma-katsu/

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About the Author

Alma Katsu is the author of The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party with a horror twist. The Hunger made NPR’s list of the 100 Best Horror Stories, was named one of the best novels of 2018 by the Observer, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books (and more), and was nominated for a Stoker and Locus Award for best horror novel.

The Taker, her debut novel, has been compared to the early works of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for combining historical, the supernatural, and fantasy into one story. The Taker was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by Booklist, was nominated for a Goodreads Readers Choice award, and has been published in over 10 languages. It is the first in an award-winning trilogy that includes The Reckoning and The Descent.

Ms. Katsu lives outside of Washington DC with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. In addition to her novels, she has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and a contributor to the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Program and Brandeis University, where she studied with novelist John Irving. She also is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Prior to publication of her first novel, Ms. Katsu had a long career in intelligence, working for several US agencies and a think tank. She currently is a consultant on emerging technologies. Additional information can be found on Wikipedia and in this interview with Ozy.com.

Author Links:

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram // Pinterest

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Book Reviews: A Casualty of War by Charles Todd and The Gate Keeper by Charles Todd

A Casualty of War
A Bess Crawford Mystery #9
Charles Todd
William Morrow, September 2017
ISBN: 978-0-0626-7878-2
Hardcover

In the waning days of WWI, Bess Crawford was stationed at a forward medical base close to the fighting when a Captain was brought in with a head wound.  It turned out that the bullet merely scraped his scalp and he returned to his men the next day, but he claimed he was shot by a British lieutenant resembling his great grandfather, perhaps his cousin, Lieutenant James Travis. A few days later, he was returned to the facility, shot in the back.  Again he told Bess the same man shot him.  Bess got to know the Captain and believed his story.

The Armistice soon took place, and Bess was asked to accompany a convoy of wounded back to England and was granted a week’s leave.  Instead of visiting home in Somerset, accompanied by Sgt. Major Brandon, she traveled to a hospital in Wiltshire where the Captain was being treated.   She was appalled to find him strapped to his bed under horrible conditions (the medical staff thought him mad because of his outbursts regarding his claim to have been shot by a relative, attributing his condition to his head wound).  Strengthening the diagnosis was the fact that James was killed a year before.  Bess insisted he be unshackled and permitted to enjoy fresh air.

She then traveled to Sussex, James’ home, to determine the accuracy of James’ death, discovering even more complications, including the fact that after a brief meeting in Paris earlier in the war, James named the Captain his heir.   Meanwhile, the Captain escapes from the Wiltshire hospital when taken for a walk.  And the story goes on as the complications of the plot unfolds.  The Bess Crawford mysteries, of which this is the ninth, artfully weave the agonies of war with the crimes Bess attempts to solve. With the end of the war on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, where will the series now go?  It deserves to continue in peace, as well!

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, February 2018.

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The Gate Keeper
An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery #20
Charles Todd
William Morrow, February 2018
ISBN: 978-0-0626-7871-3
Hardcover

Charles Todd, the mother-son writing team, offers two different series:  The Gate Keeper is from the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series (the other is the Bess Crawford novels).  Both series take place in a similar time frame, during or after World War I, and are based in England (or France, of course, in the trenches).  Rutledge served as a Captain and saw bloody action and was responsible for the execution of his Corporal, Hamish McCleod, who refused orders to lead his men into another futile charge over the top.  Hamish still haunts Rutledge, and his memory serves as sort of assistant to the Inspector by offering observations and warnings when warranted.

As a result of shell shock, Rutledge was, for a time, treated for his mental condition, but now serves as a Scotland Yard detective.  Since his release from the hospital, he has been living in the family home with his sister, who is married at the start of this novel.  Returning from the wedding, he is unable to sleep and decides to go for a drive, ending up far away from his London apartment, where he finds himself witness to a murder.  He insists on taking over the investigation and when another murder occurs, it becomes more important to uncover the reason for each.  Rutledge learns of a third murder far away that might be related to the two he is working on, but it is assigned to another Scotland Yard detective.

The plot is fairly simple, but the solution is a lot more complicated and unexpected.  Rutledge plods on until he finds a common thread to all three murders, then has to turn his attention to the question of who has actually performed the murders.  And this he does with smoothness in this, the 20th novel in the series.  On to the 21st.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, February 2018.

Book Reviews: Hell with the Lid Blown Off by Donis Casey and Battle Not With Monsters by Overton Scott

Hell with the Lid Blown OffHell with the Lid Blown Off
An Alafair Tucker Mystery #7
Donis Casey
Poisoned Pen Press, June 2014
ISBN 9781464202988
Hardcover
Also available in trade paperback

The farming community of Boynton, Oklahoma, in 1916 is like most of small town America, with parents wondering of their sons will be going off to fight in the War. Alafair and Shaw Tucker have ten children and have additional worries—two of their older daughters are about to deliver babies, and daughter Ruth is living in town with the piano teacher, Mrs. MacKenzie.

During a terrifying tornado, the Tucker homestead is damaged. Their son-in-law is seriously hurt, and some of their neighbors are killed, including local troublemaker Jubal Beldon. It’s when the undertaker is preparing Beldon’s body for burial that he discovers that Beldon was dead before the twister hit. Beldon had plenty of enemies, including his own brother. The question is: who didn’t want him dead?

It’s easy to get caught up on the lives of the Tucker family members—Ruth has a budding romance with the deputy sheriff, the Tucker’s take in a young cousin, and they find a baby amidst the debris of the tornado. Seventh in the series, the appeal of a close knit and loving family draws the reader in. If you loved the “Little House” books as a child, you’ll find much to like in this appealing series.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, October 2014.

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Battle Not With MonstersBattle Not with Monsters
Overton Scott
Good Heart Press, March 2014
ISBN 978-0615989556
Trade Paperback

This author has come up with an interesting and fresh protagonist. Justine Ford, commonly called Neen, comes into the story while going through her lower middle class life as an underpaid security guard working for a Dallas, Texas firm. One discovers she is firmly committed to a healthy body and a rigorous athletic routine. She also teaches children at a local dojo.

When she observes her partner being bludgeoned to death in the garage of the building they are supposed to be guarding, her first reaction is to run to his aid. It’s an important clue to her view of the world, but her reaction is still deficient, something she recognizes and which plays an important part in the rest of the novel. Because she arrives on the scene too late to save her partner’s life.

The novel develops a clear pro-gun, pro-state’s rights, libertarian stance, when a man shows up to lead Justine away from her roadway of ordinary existence. He is her savior in a number of important ways, but Justine does retain her innate sense of independence and self-awareness. As the story progresses, through several rambling and overly-detailed segments, Justine develops a plan to visit retribution on the killer who has murdered her partner and attacked Justine.

The novel is wordy, rambling and desperately needs a firm editorial hand. I confess I do not make the connection to the title. At the same time, it is an exciting and credible novel to read, beyond a typical frothy beach read, but the pace is uneven while we repeatedly learn about aspects of her physical training. The action scenes are excellent, each time ratcheting up the tension and feeding Justine’s uncertainties as she walks step by step into new and dark violent confrontations.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2014.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

Book Reviews: The Burning Soul by John Connolly, Trackers by Deon Meyer, What It Was by George Pelecanos, A Mortal Terror by James R. Benn, and A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd

The Burning Soul
John Connolly
Atria Books, September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4391-6527-0
Hardcover

John Connolly’s Charlie Parker Thrillers usually combine an element of the supernatural with basic detective work.  In this, the tenth in the series, the eerie aspects are slight, while the hard work of solving a case winds its way through the pages with realism and power.  It is a twisted story that begins when an attorney asks Charlie to assist a client, and unfolds with a ferocity of dynamic proportions.

It appears that the client, Randall Haight, as a 14-year-old, and with a friend, murdered a young girl in an incident with sex-related overtones. Following long jail terms, both men were released with new identities to give them a chance at rehabilitation.  Randall is now an accountant leading a quiet life in a small town on the Maine coast. And then a 14-year-old girl goes missing and Randall starts receiving reminders in the mail of his past transgression from someone who apparently has discovered his true identity.  He asks the attorney and Charlie to protect his anonymity by finding the source.  And this leads Charlie into a labyrinth of complications.

It is a gripping story, one in which the author throws red herrings into the reader’s path before unveiling a completely unexpected conclusion. Tightly written and plotted, the novel is a most welcome addition to an outstanding series and is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.

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Trackers
Deon Meyer
Atlantic Monthly Press, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8021-1993-3
Hardcover

Bringing back two characters from previous novels, the South African author has written a complicated story with three separate plots which are related both in circumstances and the people involved.  One theme involves what appears to be a Muslim plot, which a government intelligence service suspects at first to be a tradeoff between the smuggling of diamonds in exchange for weapons.  A second, an offshoot of the smuggling operation by a man seeking to recover a large sum of money he claims was stolen from him by gangsters (who incidentally are involved in the smuggling operation).

Then there is free-lance bodyguard Lemmer, who makes his second appearance in a Deon Meyer novel  [the first being The Blood Safari], who becomes involved indirectly in the smuggling operation when he accompanies a truck bearing two black rhinos into South Africa from a neighboring country which the gangsters believe is the method for bringing in the diamonds.  And finally Mat Joubert, the enigmatic South African detective, now retired, on his first day working for a private detective agency, who manages to bring all the threads together.

This stand-alone thriller aims high, and largely achieves its ambitions.  Adding to the spice is not only the author’s ability to portray the social, economic and political background of South Africa in depth, but a chilling look at how it is also a place where terrorists can run rampant.  And, icing on the cake, a first-rate mystery to keep the reader enthralled.  Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.

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What it Was
George Pelecanos
Reagan Arthur Books/Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company, January 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-20954-0
Paperback, 246 pp., $9.99

The year was 1972.  Derek Strange was out of the Metropolitan Police Dept. for four years and struggling to build up his PI agency.  Nixon was in the White House, but not for long.  Watergate was just up ahead.  The riots that tore the nation’s Capitol apart were some years ago, but unrest and attitude still ran strong.

Against this background George Pelecanos has written about Strange’s early career as a 26-year-old and his relationship with Detective Frank Vaughn.  It all starts when Strange is retained by a good-looking babe to find a missing ring of little “value” but “great” sentimentality.  This takes him on a journey, which enables the author to describe the crime conditions – – including a one-man murder wave – – and population and living conditions of D.C., along with almost a catalogue of the music of the era.

Written with the usual vernacular and tight prose as displayed in the previous novels in the series, the graphic details of the characters are mesmerizing.  Highly recommended.

[It should perhaps be noted that the novel is available in three different forms: the paperback, as well as a limited hardcover edition and an eBook version.]

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2012.

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A Mortal Terror
James R. Benn
Soho Crime, September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-56947-994-0
Hardcover

The Billy Boyle World War II Mysteries follow the progress of that conflict in this, the sixth installment, albeit it with a different twist.  It brings Billy his first murder case, either as a Boston detective (in his previous civilian life) or as “uncle” Ike’s special investigator.  But the horrors of the war in Italy, and especially the Anzio beachhead invasion, provide the backdrop for the tale.

When two officers are found murdered with clues left behind, one a ten of hearts on the body of a lieutenant and a jack of hearts on that of a Captain, the signs of a possible serial killer bent on revenge against the brass emerge, causing concern back at Eisenhower’s Supreme Headquarters.  So Billy is recalled from a three-day pass during which he met with his girlfriend in Switzerland and sent to Naples to begin an investigation into the crimes.  Then he has to face the fact that his younger brother is arriving as a replacement in the very platoon in which he suspects the killer is a member.

The author, a librarian, writes with accuracy of the difficulties and what would today be called PTSD endured by the GIs, as well as the physical hardships and psychological manifestations of infantry warfare.  His plotting is taut, descriptions graphic.  All in all, the series just keeps on getting better and better.  And the Second Front hasn’t yet been opened.  The series has a long way to go, and that’s a good thing.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, February 2012.

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A Bitter Truth
Charles Todd
William Morrow, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-201570-9
Hardcover

This Bess Crawford mystery, set during World War I, finds her on a short leave from the front, intending to spend the Christmas holidays with her parents.  When she arrives at her apartment in London, she finds a young woman huddled on her doorstep, cold, hungry and distraught.  In sympathy, Bess takes her up to her room and learns that she has run away from her husband and home because he has abused her, and her disfigured face is proof.

From this improbable beginning, Bess becomes involved in a family’s secrets and along the way in a few murders, since she accompanies the young woman back to her home and family.  The novel rambles on, as the plot unfolds and the police fumble in an effort to solve one murder after another.  Bess returns to France, only to be recalled by the police for additional inquiries.

There are some excellent aspects to the novel, including insights into the lives of upper crust Britons of the period.  But it appeared to this reader that to bring the plot to a conclusion, the mother-son author duo reached out to contrive a solution that has little if any foundation. Nevertheless, the book is an enjoyable read and is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, February 2012.

Book Reviews: Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman, The Confession by Charles Todd, The Border Lords by T. Jefferson Parker, Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster, and White Lies by Jeremy Bates

Hurt Machine
Reed Farrel Coleman
Tyrus Books, December 2011
ISBN No. 978-1440531996
Trade Paperback

When Carmella Melendez, Moe Prager’s ex-wife and former PI partner, shows up at Moe’s daughter Sarah’s pre-wedding party he finds himself reliving the past while trying to keep the future at bay.  Carmella needs a favor from Moe.  Her sister has been murdered but the police don’t seem concerned about finding her killer.  Unable to resist Carmella’s plea, Moe decides to try to find out who killed Alta.  This decision does not sit well with Pam, a PI from Vermont and a woman that currently holds a special place in Moe’s life.

Carmella took her son Israel, a child close to Moe’s heart, and went to Canada to live leaving Moe behind.  She had also cut her family out of her life with the exception of her grandmother so it was a puzzle to Moe why she was so concerned with her older sister’s murder.  Alta and her partner Mayna Watson were EMTs who had refused to give assistance to a dying man at a downtown restaurant. The man’s family were furious and the public had no sympathy for Alta or her partner as evidenced by the ton of hate mail Mayna turned over to Moe to help his investigation.

Moe moves forward in his investigation taking him to places that have held a lot of meaning to him in the past.  Moe also renews old acquaintances while making his inquiries.  However, his thoughts are always touching on his own future or even if he will have a future.  Moe has recently discovered that he is suffering from stomach cancer. This is a fact that he hasn’t shared with his family so he is carrying the burden alone. Carmella has left town and gone back to Canada without saying good-bye.  Mayna, Alta’s partner, is uncooperative and only wants to be left alone.  It seems no one really cares what actually happened but Moe is determined to find the answer.

It is as if finding Alta’s killer is keeping the cancer at bay in Moe’s mind although his body continually reminds him that the cancer is there and demanding more of his strength daily.  He finds all the answers he is seeking and learns why Alta was murdered.

I am hoping that the fact that Moe has cancer is not an indication that the series will be ending.  The author’s website states that Hurt Machine is “reportedly the next-to-last Moe Prager book.”  If this statement is true, it is a disappointment to me but it looks as though I will have one more book to read in the series.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2012.

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

The Confession
(An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery)

Charles Todd
William Morrow, January 2012
ISBN No. 978-0062015662
Hardcover

A man walks into Rutledge’s office at Scotland Yard and identifies himself as Wyatt Russell.  From Russell’s appearance, it is obvious that the man is very ill.  Russell admits to Rutledge that he is suffering from cancer and does not have long to live.  His purpose for visiting Scotland Yard is to confess that he killed a man in 1915 and was never apprehended.  Russell states that confessing is the only way to clear his conscience.  He names his victim as his cousin, Justin Fowler.

Rutledge is curious but confused.  Although Russell admits to the murder, he is not willing to offer many details and eventually states that his confusion is due to the morphine that he is taking.  Without enough evidence to open a murder inquiry Rutledge still cannot just let the matter go.  His curiosity will not allow it.  When a body is found floating in the Thames with a bullet in the back of the head, it turns out that the body is that of Rutledge’s confessor to murder of a few weeks ago. There is a gold locket around the man’s neck containing a picture of a young woman.

Rutledge takes the locket and travels to Essex and the village of Furnham, the home of Wyatt Russell.  Although the community of Furnham does not welcome strangers, Rutledge is able to speak to the minister who informs Rutledge that the picture of the dead man is not that of Wyatt Russell.

It turns out the dead man who passed himself off, as Wyatt Russell is actual Ben Willet, the son of a fisherman, who grew up in the town of Furnham.  Wyatt Russell resided at River’s Edge, an estate near the town.  Wyatt’s mother took in a cousin Justin Fowler to raise after Fowler’s parents died. Cynthia Farraday also came to live at River’s Edge after the death of her parents.  Wyatt’s mother disappeared from River’s Edge and her body was never found. Servants attested to the fact that the gold locket found around the neck of Ben Willet was actually owned by Mrs. Russell and there was a picture inside of Mr. and Mrs. Russell.  Mrs. Russell was known to wear the locket daily.

Rutledge is left with a puzzle of so many pieces it seems impossible to put together but he is determined.  It seems that there are many mysteries surrounding River’s Edge to say nothing of the town of Furnham. The residents have good reason to keep strangers away.  Rutledge has at least three deaths to puzzle out.  Mrs. Russell who disappeared and is believed dead in 1914, Justin Fowler’s reported death in 1915 and now Ben Willet, who confessed to the killing of Justin Fowler when passing himself off as Wyatt Russell.

The story is intriguing and the outcome is not one that I expected.  Hamish McLeod, the ghost that rides shotgun with Rutledge, is present in The Confession but his presence is not as predominant as it has been in past Rutledge novels.  I found this novel to be a great addition to the Ian Rutledge series but can be read as a stand-alone.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2012.

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

The Border Lords
A Charlie Hood Novel

T. Jefferson Parker
New American Library, January 2012
ISBN No. 978-0-451-23556-5
Trade Paperback

Sean Ozburn (Gravas) is undercover for Operation Blowdown.  Sean is one of the best undercover operators but Charlie Hood is taken by surprise when Sean begins acting totally out of character.  Sean operates a “safe house” in Buena Vista, California, a border town.  The house has been wired for sound and video.  The current occupants of the house are four gunmen who are members of the North Baja Cartel, the organization Sean and ATF are hoping to put out of business.  Sean was in the habit of checking in with Operation Blowdown on a daily basis but he hasn’t checked in for a few days and Hood is concerned that Sean’s undercover identity might have been blown.

Charlie Hood, still on loan from the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, was monitoring the live feeds from the “safe house” when the monitors and audio went dark.  After the team requested an unmarked police car to drive by the house, it was decided it would be best to check out the house on their own.  All of the occupants of the “safe house” had been killed.  Hood found a “Love 32” in one of the bedrooms.  The machine gun was the same as ones he had seen being packed for shipment at the Pace Arms factory in Costa Mesa.  He suspected many of the guns had been sent to Mexico and were now being used by the Cartel.  After an inspection of the house, it was found that someone had shut off the video/audio system with a key.    When the team viewed the tape from one of the cameras, they were stunned to see Sean smiling into the camera as he reached up to cover the lens.

So begins the bizarre story of Sean Ozburn and his wife Seliah.  Hood works with Seliah to try to get Sean to come in.  Hood hopes that he can trust Seliah but is unsure that she is being honest with him.  As the story develops, the reader becomes aware that Sean is suffering from a disease that he has been infected with and soon his wife is a victim.  Bradley Jones and his wife Erin play small but important parts in this novel.

The Jaguar is the next Charlie Hood novel and there is a brief introduction to the book at the end of The Border LordsThe Border Lords can be read as a stand-alone.  L. A. Outlaws, The Renegades and Iron River are the first three books in this series.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2012.

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

Beneath the Shadows
Sara Foster
Minotaur Books, June 2012
ISBN No. 978-0312643362
Hardcover

Adam, Grace and baby Millie leave the hustle and bustle of London to settle in a cottage in North Yorkshire that Adam inherited from his grandparents.  The area is beautiful but isolated.  The cottage seems to have its own personality and is filled with the possessions of Adam’s grandparents.  Grace is confident the family can adjust and be happy there.

One day, Adam leaves a note for Grace that he has something to discuss with her when he returns from walking Millie.  Grace is curious, but as the old grandfather clock ticks away the minutes she begins to get nervous.  It seems that Adam has been gone a long time for a little walk.  When Grace hears a noise at the door, she opens it to find her daughter, Millie, in her carriage but Adam is nowhere near.  Grace calls the police and a search is immediately conducted but with no success.  It appears that Adam has disappeared without a trace.

Grace’s parents take her away from the cottage because they feel that it is not a healthy environment for their daughter or their grandchild.  A year goes by with no news of Adam and Grace cannot let go of her memories, or the hope that he will come in the door at any time.  Grace decides to return to Yorkshire with Millie.  She hopes that living in the cottage and sorting through all the many boxes stored in the attic and the basement will help her come to terms with her situation and help her decide what to do with the cottage.

Grace’s neighbor, Meredith Blakeney, invites Grace to visit her.  Annabel, Grace’s sister, comes from London to visit and help Grace sort things out.  She also meets Ben, a man staying in the area to housesit, and he agrees to come to the cottage and do some renovations.

Grace spends the nights alone letting her thoughts wander to the many tales of ghosts and demons that locals tell about the area.  She is also worried about the grandfather clock that seems to have a mind of its own, slowing down and starting up again without warning.

As Grace unpacks boxes she finds letters written by Adam’s deceased mother as well as other items that make Grace feel more and more that Adam did not just leave, but met with a tragic ending.

Beneath the Shadows is a gripping story that keeps the reader interested every step of the way.  Grace has many bad moments and times when she wanted to just run away but in spite of her fears she is able to stay in Yorkshire and eventually solve the mystery of Adam.  The conclusion comes as a surprise but was a brilliant ending.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2012.

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

White Lies
Jeremy Bates
Oceanview Publishing, May 2012
ISBN No. 978-1-60809-043-3
Hardcover

Katrina Burton is traveling to a new job teaching high school English at Cascade High School in Leavenworth, Washington.  The last thing that ever occurred to Katrina was that this new life would start out with a white lie leading to another lie and another lie up to the point where Katrina finds herself lying to protect a murderer.

It all starts innocently enough when Katrina picks up a strange man on her way to Leavenworth.  Katrina was well aware of the dangers of picking up strangers but the weather was bad and there wasn’t any traffic and Katrina felt guilty passing up the man.  Once he got in the car with her and her dog, Bandit, Katrina began to have second thoughts.  When she spotted a sign leading to a turnoff to Lake Wenatchee she told her first lie and said she had a place at the lake and dropped the man off at the turn.  Katrina was relieved to be rid of the hitchhiker named Zach and felt sure she had seen the end of him.

Katrina and Bandit settled in the place that Katrina had rented and Katrina prepared for the first day of school.  It turns out Zach Marshall not only lives in town but teaches in the high school where Katrina is going to begin her new career.  To Katrina’s horror, Zach announces to the other teachers that Katrina owns a cottage at the Lake and suggest she host a party for her new coworkers.  Katrina is beside herself trying to figure out how to get out of the one little lie she told.

Jack Reeves is a man Katrina met at the local hardware store and she confides in Jack the problem about the party and the lake house.  Jack comes up with a solution for Katrina to save face with her fellow workers.  Though Katrina realizes it is not the best solution, she goes along with his suggestion.

Zach is a strange character.  I disliked Zach at times but other times felt sympathy for him.  Jack Reeves also has many sides to his personality.  Katrina soon begins to realize that Jack may not be the person that originally caught her eye.

As the pages turn the reader soon realizes that with Reeves influence Katrina is digging herself a hole with half-truths and new lies.  The characters in White Lies are strong and the suspense builds and builds.  This is a book that leaves the reader wanting more.  I will be looking for future books by this author.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2012.

Book Reviews: I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman, The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd, The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis, and Dark Mind by Jennifer Chase

I’d Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman
William Morrow Paperbacks,
ISBN 978-0062070753
Trade Paperback

Eliza Benedict and her family have recently moved back to the United States after living several years in England.  The move was brought about by Eliza’s husband’s employment.  The children are just adjusting to the move. Eliza’s daughter Isobel (Iso) and her son Albie are in new schools and attempting to get used to life in the states after being gone so long.

Eliza’s ordinary life is suddenly interrupted when she receives a letter from Walter Bowman, a death row inmate.  Walter had spotted Eliza’s picture in a magazine and his letter states “I’d know you anywhere”.  Walter had kidnapped Eliza when she was only 15 years old.  Walter held Eliza hostage for40 days before she was finally released.  This is a part of Eliza’s life that she hasn’t shared with her children.

Eliza’s full name was Elizabeth Hortense Lerner prior to her marriage.  After her abduction, her parents moved and she entered a new school under the name of Eliza.  Only her parents, her sister Vonnie and Eliza’s husband are aware of the past circumstances until a woman who has taken up Walter’s cause finds Eliza and encourages her to talk to Walter.  Eliza finally decides after discussing the matter with her husband that she will speak with Walter. She installs a new telephone line and instructs Walter that the only hours she will be willing to answer the phone is during the time her children are away at school.  Walter wants Eliza to visit him on death row.  Eliza isn’t the only girl he kidnapped but she is the one who lived.  He indicates if she will only visit him, he will reveal information to her about the other that he has previously refused to discuss.

The story of the kidnapping is told in flashbacks.  It seems there were many times Eliza had the opportunity to escape but fear that Walter would carry out his threats to harm Eliza’s family held her back.  Eliza remembers the many days she was held by Walter and her methods of coping with a horrible situation.

This is a book that I very much enjoyed and would highly recommend.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
Marcus Sakey
Dutton, June 2011
ISBN 978-0525952114
Hardcover

The story begins with Daniel Hayes washed up on the beach, half dead and thousands of miles away from home.  Daniel is alone except for a car parked on the beach and abandoned.  Of course, Daniel has no idea that he is Daniel Hayes.  He has amnesia and no idea of how he arrived in the water off the coast of Maine.  The car is a BMW.  The registration says Daniel Hayes.  The clothes in the trunk happen to fit.  The gun in the glove compartment is a big surprise.  With no other options, he starts driving the BMW headed across the country. The registration says California so that is his destination.  Is he Daniel Hayes or someone that just washed up on the beach and lucked into a good car with clothes, cash, maps and even a nice Rolex watch.  He wonders how he knew the watch was a Rolex and was surprised he liked the taste of the whiskey left in the car.  With no other options available at the moment, he decides he will be Daniel Hayes – at least until he finds out something different.

As he tries to retrace his life, he finds many surprises.    He has a wife but she is dead.   Or is she dead?  That is just another story he needs to unravel.  As Daniel struggles to make sense of his life, he finds himself right in the middle of a situation that is extremely dangerous but not one that he fully understands.

The struggles Daniel goes through to regain his memory and understand his life that went before he wound up half dead on a beach in Maine is a thriller that keeps the reader on edge up to the very last page.

Marcus Sakey’s previous novels have been very successful and this one is sure to be a winner.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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

A Bitter Truth
A Bess Crawford Mystery
Charles Todd
William  Morrow and Company, August 2011
ISBN No. 978-0062015709
Hardcover

Bess Crawford is a nurse currently stationed in France.  When she is granted leave to return to England for the Christmas holidays she welcomes the break from the war zone and looks forward to visiting her family.  Bess shares an apartment with some other nurses and it is not uncommon for her to have the place to herself since her roommates all have assignments.  Upon arriving at her apartment building, Bess finds a young woman huddled in the doorway.  The woman is well dressed and appears to be bruised as well as suffering from the cold.    Her clothing is not designed to keep her warm.  Bess convinces the woman to take refuge in her apartment.

The young woman finally confides in Bess that her name is Lydia Ellis and she resides in Sussex.  She had quarreled with her husband, Captain Roger Ellis, and Captain Ellis had struck her.    Eventually after hearing bits and pieces of Lydia’s story Bess convinced her to return to her home in Sussex and attempt to work out her problems.  Lydia’s husband was home on compassionate leave due to the illness of his brother Alan.  Alan had recently passed away.

Lydia begged Bess to return to Sussex with her to Vixen Hill the Ellis family home.  Bess agrees although Simon Brandon was not thrilled with the idea. Simon is a long time family friend who had served with Bess’ father and is very protective of Bess.  On arrival at Vixen Hill, Bess finds that plans are underway for a memorial service for Alan and family members are gathering.  Bess learns of the tragic death of Roger’s young sister years ago, a death from which none of the family seems to have completely recovered.

Soon there is another death to be investigated when a friend of the family who was staying at Vixen Hill is found murdered.  Bess is drawn into the investigation and soon learns more about the family than she ever wanted to know. Lydia has heard rumors that her husband had a child with a woman in France and that the child is the image of his dead sister.  Lydia begs Bess to look for the child when she returns to France.

Bess makes no promises but when she returns to France, she does make inquiries.  Bess confides in a soldier from Australia who takes up the search for the child.  In war torn France there are hundreds of orphans and many of the Sisters carrying for them have to move from place to place due to the war.

The story jumps back and forth between the war front and England and there is no lack of excitement on either front.  This is a good addition to the Bess Crawford mysteries and there is more than one puzzle to solve.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2011.

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

The Boy In the Suitcase
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis
Soho Crime, November 2011
ISBN 978-1569479810
Hardcover

When Nina Borg, a nurse, agrees to do her friend Karin a favor and pick up a suitcase from a locker in the Copenhagen train station, she thought it would be a simple errand. The errand turned out to be far from simple and extremely dangerous.  When Nina opened the suitcase, she found a small boy, naked and drugged.  Should she call the police and turn the child over to the authorities?  This is the question she kept asking herself but finally determined that the authorities might not do what was in the boy’s best interest.

Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, Sigita was frantic.  Sigita woke up in a hospital with no idea how she got there but is told that she was found in a drunken state after falling down the steps from her apartment.  All Sigita knew was that she did not drink to excess, she has no memory of drinking or falling and her child, Mikas, is gone.  A neighbor tells Sigita that the boy’s father had picked him up but when Sigita is finally able to reach Mikas’ father she finds that he knows nothing about where his son might be.

Nina finally finds out where Karin is and goes to meet her.  When Nina gets to the cabin where Karin is staying, she finds that Karin has been murdered.  There is no clue as to the boy’s identity or why Karin asked Nina to pick up the suitcase.   Nina is quick to realize that agreeing to do a favor for a friend has placed both her and the boy in danger.

The story turns into a race against time with Nina trying to find any clue to help her identify the boy and return him to his family while ignoring her own husband and children who are concerned for Nina’s whereabouts.

Sigita who has reported her child’s loss to the authorities goes about her own investigation into his disappearance and is doing everything she can think of to find her son even though she senses that time is running out.  Sigita was forced to give up her first baby and now to think of losing her son is too horrible to imagine.

The puzzle of why Mikas was abducted and the purpose behind the abduction is one that remains a secret until the surprise ending of this novel.  Finally, it all comes together and makes for a very exciting book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, November 2011.

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

Dark Mind
An Emily Stone Novel
Jennifer Chase
JEC Press, November 2011
ISBN No.978-0982953648
Trade Paperback

This third addition to the Emily Stone series finds Emily and Rick Lopez on the beautiful island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.  Rick has given up his position as a police officer to join Emily in her undercover operation tracking serial killers with the emphasis on child abductors.  Emily was a former police officer.

Rick and Emily are able to rescue a child that was kidnapped by slave brokers.  When the police arrive at the scene, the couple meets Sergeant Lani Candena of the local police department.

The couple feel their trip has been successful and decide to stay on the island and enjoy a little vacation time.  It isn’t long before they hear rumors of a vicious murder.  Rick and Emily go to the scene of the crime and wait for the police to leave. Rick and Emily take a look at the scene.  Once again they run up against Sergeant Lani Candena of the of the local police department.

Lani is an ambitious officer and when there is a second murder, he feels sure that he has a serial killer on his hands.  The killings are staged in a horrible manner and Emily and Rick are convinced the killer must be a local resident.  Lani’s superior officers in the department are more interested in making a profit for themselves in the shady deals they are involved in than finding the killer.

Derek McGraw, an old friend of Rick and Emily, joins the couple on the island.  The three of them work on putting the few clues they have been able to put together in an attempt to locate the killer.  Sgt. Candena is aware that the trio is very interested in the murders.  He eventually convinces the group to work with him in an attempt to hunt down the killer.

The action in Dark Mind is non-stop.   Emily is lucky to survive the hunt.  This novel can be read as a stand-alone but I would also recommend Compulsion and Dead Game, the two previous Emily Stone novels.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2012.

Book Reviews: I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman, The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd, The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis, and Dark Mind by Jennifer Chase

I’d Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman
William Morrow Paperbacks,
ISBN 978-0062070753
Trade Paperback

Eliza Benedict and her family have recently moved back to the United States after living several years in England.  The move was brought about by Eliza’s husband’s employment.  The children are just adjusting to the move. Eliza’s daughter Isobel (Iso) and her son Albie are in new schools and attempting to get used to life in the states after being gone so long.

Eliza’s ordinary life is suddenly interrupted when she receives a letter from Walter Bowman, a death row inmate.  Walter had spotted Eliza’s picture in a magazine and his letter states “I’d know you anywhere”.  Walter had kidnapped Eliza when she was only 15 years old.  Walter held Eliza hostage for40 days before she was finally released.  This is a part of Eliza’s life that she hasn’t shared with her children.

Eliza’s full name was Elizabeth Hortense Lerner prior to her marriage.  After her abduction, her parents moved and she entered a new school under the name of Eliza.  Only her parents, her sister Vonnie and Eliza’s husband are aware of the past circumstances until a woman who has taken up Walter’s cause finds Eliza and encourages her to talk to Walter.  Eliza finally decides after discussing the matter with her husband that she will speak with Walter. She installs a new telephone line and instructs Walter that the only hours she will be willing to answer the phone is during the time her children are away at school.  Walter wants Eliza to visit him on death row.  Eliza isn’t the only girl he kidnapped but she is the one who lived.  He indicates if she will only visit him, he will reveal information to her about the other that he has previously refused to discuss.

The story of the kidnapping is told in flashbacks.  It seems there were many times Eliza had the opportunity to escape but fear that Walter would carry out his threats to harm Eliza’s family held her back.  Eliza remembers the many days she was held by Walter and her methods of coping with a horrible situation.

This is a book that I very much enjoyed and would highly recommend.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
Marcus Sakey
Dutton, June 2011
ISBN 978-0525952114
Hardcover

The story begins with Daniel Hayes washed up on the beach, half dead and thousands of miles away from home.  Daniel is alone except for a car parked on the beach and abandoned.  Of course, Daniel has no idea that he is Daniel Hayes.  He has amnesia and no idea of how he arrived in the water off the coast of Maine.  The car is a BMW.  The registration says Daniel Hayes.  The clothes in the trunk happen to fit.  The gun in the glove compartment is a big surprise.  With no other options, he starts driving the BMW headed across the country. The registration says California so that is his destination.  Is he Daniel Hayes or someone that just washed up on the beach and lucked into a good car with clothes, cash, maps and even a nice Rolex watch.  He wonders how he knew the watch was a Rolex and was surprised he liked the taste of the whiskey left in the car.  With no other options available at the moment, he decides he will be Daniel Hayes – at least until he finds out something different.

As he tries to retrace his life, he finds many surprises.    He has a wife but she is dead.   Or is she dead?  That is just another story he needs to unravel.  As Daniel struggles to make sense of his life, he finds himself right in the middle of a situation that is extremely dangerous but not one that he fully understands.

The struggles Daniel goes through to regain his memory and understand his life that went before he wound up half dead on a beach in Maine is a thriller that keeps the reader on edge up to the very last page.

Marcus Sakey’s previous novels have been very successful and this one is sure to be a winner.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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

A Bitter Truth
A Bess Crawford Mystery
Charles Todd
William  Morrow and Company, August 2011
ISBN No. 978-0062015709
Hardcover

Bess Crawford is a nurse currently stationed in France.  When she is granted leave to return to England for the Christmas holidays she welcomes the break from the war zone and looks forward to visiting her family.  Bess shares an apartment with some other nurses and it is not uncommon for her to have the place to herself since her roommates all have assignments.  Upon arriving at her apartment building, Bess finds a young woman huddled in the doorway.  The woman is well dressed and appears to be bruised as well as suffering from the cold.    Her clothing is not designed to keep her warm.  Bess convinces the woman to take refuge in her apartment.

The young woman finally confides in Bess that her name is Lydia Ellis and she resides in Sussex.  She had quarreled with her husband, Captain Roger Ellis, and Captain Ellis had struck her.    Eventually after hearing bits and pieces of Lydia’s story Bess convinced her to return to her home in Sussex and attempt to work out her problems.  Lydia’s husband was home on compassionate leave due to the illness of his brother Alan.  Alan had recently passed away.

Lydia begged Bess to return to Sussex with her to Vixen Hill the Ellis family home.  Bess agrees although Simon Brandon was not thrilled with the idea. Simon is a long time family friend who had served with Bess’ father and is very protective of Bess.  On arrival at Vixen Hill, Bess finds that plans are underway for a memorial service for Alan and family members are gathering.  Bess learns of the tragic death of Roger’s young sister years ago, a death from which none of the family seems to have completely recovered.

Soon there is another death to be investigated when a friend of the family who was staying at Vixen Hill is found murdered.  Bess is drawn into the investigation and soon learns more about the family than she ever wanted to know. Lydia has heard rumors that her husband had a child with a woman in France and that the child is the image of his dead sister.  Lydia begs Bess to look for the child when she returns to France.

Bess makes no promises but when she returns to France, she does make inquiries.  Bess confides in a soldier from Australia who takes up the search for the child.  In war torn France there are hundreds of orphans and many of the Sisters carrying for them have to move from place to place due to the war.

The story jumps back and forth between the war front and England and there is no lack of excitement on either front.  This is a good addition to the Bess Crawford mysteries and there is more than one puzzle to solve.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2011.

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

The Boy In the Suitcase
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis
Soho Crime, November 2011
ISBN 978-1569479810
Hardcover

When Nina Borg, a nurse, agrees to do her friend Karin a favor and pick up a suitcase from a locker in the Copenhagen train station, she thought it would be a simple errand. The errand turned out to be far from simple and extremely dangerous.  When Nina opened the suitcase, she found a small boy, naked and drugged.  Should she call the police and turn the child over to the authorities?  This is the question she kept asking herself but finally determined that the authorities might not do what was in the boy’s best interest.

Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, Sigita was frantic.  Sigita woke up in a hospital with no idea how she got there but is told that she was found in a drunken state after falling down the steps from her apartment.  All Sigita knew was that she did not drink to excess, she has no memory of drinking or falling and her child, Mikas, is gone.  A neighbor tells Sigita that the boy’s father had picked him up but when Sigita is finally able to reach Mikas’ father she finds that he knows nothing about where his son might be.

Nina finally finds out where Karin is and goes to meet her.  When Nina gets to the cabin where Karin is staying, she finds that Karin has been murdered.  There is no clue as to the boy’s identity or why Karin asked Nina to pick up the suitcase.   Nina is quick to realize that agreeing to do a favor for a friend has placed both her and the boy in danger.

The story turns into a race against time with Nina trying to find any clue to help her identify the boy and return him to his family while ignoring her own husband and children who are concerned for Nina’s whereabouts.

Sigita who has reported her child’s loss to the authorities goes about her own investigation into his disappearance and is doing everything she can think of to find her son even though she senses that time is running out.  Sigita was forced to give up her first baby and now to think of losing her son is too horrible to imagine.

The puzzle of why Mikas was abducted and the purpose behind the abduction is one that remains a secret until the surprise ending of this novel.  Finally, it all comes together and makes for a very exciting book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, November 2011.

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Dark Mind
An Emily Stone Novel
Jennifer Chase
JEC Press, November 2011
ISBN No.978-0982953648
Trade Paperback

This third addition to the Emily Stone series finds Emily and Rick Lopez on the beautiful island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.  Rick has given up his position as a police officer to join Emily in her undercover operation tracking serial killers with the emphasis on child abductors.  Emily was a former police officer.

Rick and Emily are able to rescue a child that was kidnapped by slave brokers.  When the police arrive at the scene, the couple meets Sergeant Lani Candena of the local police department.

The couple feel their trip has been successful and decide to stay on the island and enjoy a little vacation time.  It isn’t long before they hear rumors of a vicious murder.  Rick and Emily go to the scene of the crime and wait for the police to leave. Rick and Emily take a look at the scene.  Once again they run up against Sergeant Lani Candena of the of the local police department.

Lani is an ambitious officer and when there is a second murder, he feels sure that he has a serial killer on his hands.  The killings are staged in a horrible manner and Emily and Rick are convinced the killer must be a local resident.  Lani’s superior officers in the department are more interested in making a profit for themselves in the shady deals they are involved in than finding the killer.

Derek McGraw, an old friend of Rick and Emily, joins the couple on the island.  The three of them work on putting the few clues they have been able to put together in an attempt to locate the killer.  Sgt. Candena is aware that the trio is very interested in the murders.  He eventually convinces the group to work with him in an attempt to hunt down the killer.

The action in Dark Mind is non-stop.   Emily is lucky to survive the hunt.  This novel can be read as a stand-alone but I would also recommend Compulsion and Dead Game, the two previous Emily Stone novels.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2012.