Friday, July 31, 2009

Where Petals Fall by Shirley Wells

Five years ago, forensic psychologist Jill Kennedy and DCI Max Trentham thought they had seen the last of a serial killer the authorities had named "The Undertaker" when the suspect, Edward Marshall, plunged over a cliff during a chase. His body was never found. Now a local florist, Carol Blakely, has been murdered in a style very similar to "The Undertaker's." Is Marshall still alive or has a copycat surfaced? Both Jill and Max doubt their abilities, at times, because of past events. Will they be able to focus and capture the killer? Where Petals Fall is the third book in the Kennedy/Trentham series. It would appeal to people who like traditional British police procedurals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

Detective Inspector Darko Dawson's newest case takes him from his home in Accra to the small village Ketanu in Ghana's Volta Region. A young medical student, Gladys Mensah, has been found murdered and Dawson's boss thinks he's the perfect person to help with the investigation because he knows the local language. Dawson finds he has no shortage of suspects because Gladys disapproved of the local custom of trokosi, in which young women are given over to a High Priest to soothe the gods after a crime was commited by a family member. She was also involved in AIDS education, which angered some local residents. On a personal front, Ketanu brings out a mix of feelings in Dawson. His aunt lives there, but it was also the last place his mother was seen before she disappeared when he was a child. Will he be able to nativigate the world of long-held customs using contemporary methods to find a killer? Wife of the Gods is a mystery full of descriptions of Ghanian life along with a main character who is, at times, flawed. An enjoyable book that I hope is the start of a new series.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fire and Ice by J.A. Jance

J.P. Beaumont and his wife Mel Soames have been working on finding the person who's been burning women to death in western Washington. When the latest body is found with the victim's teeth still intact, Beaumont and the state's special homicide team hope this will provide them with a lead since the other victims are still unidentified. Meanwhile, in Arizona, Sheriff Joanna Brady and her colleagues are working on the murder of a man who was run over repeatedly in some dunes. Over time, as Beaumont and Joanna delve into their separate cases, information surfaces that indicates the two are connected. Will they be able to put their past attraction aside to bring the people responsible to justice? In Fire and Ice, Jance reunites her two popular series characters. This is their second appearance together, after Partner in Crime. I really love the J.P. Beaumont series and enjoyed this latest mystery.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde

A group of twelve people take a two-week rafting adventure on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. J.T. is the head guide on his 125th trip. His assistants are Abo and Dixie. As for the tourists, Jill and Mark are accompanied by their two teenage sons. Ruth and Lloyd are on their last whitewater trip because of Lloyd's advancing Alzheimer's. Susan is with her overweight daughter--they can barely stand to be around each other. There are the singles, Evelyn (a Harvard professor) and Peter (a twentysomething who's tending to his broken heart). Lastly, there's Mitchell (who gets on everyone's nerves) and his quiet wife, Lena. The book does a great job of describing the setting and the ins and outs of rafting while also spending time on the characters' thoughts and feelings. The strangers get to deal with both the expected and unexpected on their journey.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

One summer day the lives of a group of friends are changed forever. Married couple Greg and Tess MacAvoy drown during a sailing trip off the island of Nantucket while celebrating their wedding anniversary. In addition to leaving behind their young twins, the survivors include their best friends-- three other couples who did everything together with them. Andrea was Tess' cousin and her husband, Ed, is the Chief of Police. Addison was having an affair with Tess even though he was married to Phoebe. Delilah was the closest to Greg despite being Jeffrey's wife. Throughout the book and from each character's perspective, we see how the friendships began and the grief they feel over the mysterious deaths. Hilderbrand has a deft hand at portraying feelings and at writing about everyday island life. I had a hard time putting the book down. Definitely one of her best.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ravens by George Dawes Green

The Boatwright family has just won $318 million in the Georgia lottery. Shaw McBride hears of the Boatwright's windfall while he's on his way to Florida with his friend, Romeo Zderko. Shaw hatches a plan to claim half of the lottery money by ingratiating himself with the family and then threatening to have Romeo start killing the Boatwrights' close relatives if they don't give him the cash. In the novel, the reader sees the situation through many of the characters' eyes, which gives it a psychological bent. Will Shaw be able to keep the family in a constant state of fear so they follow his orders or will they find some way to keep all the winnings themselves?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

Addie and Val were best friends as children, but during senior year in high school, they stopped being friends. On the night of their fifteenth high school reunion, Val shows up late at night at Addie's door, bloody, asking for help. Not having spoken in all this time, Addie is hesitant to lend a hand. It turns out that Val thinks she's run over Dan Swansea, a jerk they knew when they were teenagers. With blood found in the parking lot of the country club where the reunion was held, Chief of Police Jordan Novick is trying to figure out which of the attendees was injured. Jordan's path crosses Addie's and he's instantly smitten. But Addie and Val feel they need to leave town because they're not sure what happened to Dan. Will Val's impulsive vehicular act change the characters lives for the better? Weiner alternates the current story with that of Addie and Val's childhood friendship and Addie's life in the intervening years. Best Friends Forever features the author's usual depth of character along with touches of humor. A perfect book for the beach.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Awakening by S.J. Bolton

Clara Benning is a wild animal veterinarian in rural Dorset who avoids people because of a childhood accident that left her face scarred. She finds herself thrust into the public eye in her village when she rescues a baby from a snake that was in her crib and another neighbor dies of a snake bite. Clara wonders if the incidents were accidents or something more sinister. With the help of local policeman Matt Hoare and Sean North (a well-known herpetologist), Clara realizes that there's a killer on the loose who is using snakes as his weapon of choice. She then puts her own life on the line to try and find the murderer. Awakening is a mystery with a sense of place and loads of information about snake behavior.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins

Antiques expert Sterling Glass is hired by an insurance company to try and appraise items that were stolen or broken during a robbery at Wynderly, an estate in Virginia that was turned into a museum, now closed. While Sterling is extremely knowledgeable about antiques and fakes, she finds the job a challenge--the museum's curator won't leave her alone, the foundation Friends of Wynderly is plagued by bickering and secrets and the paperwork for the antiques is unorganized. As she's doing her work, Sterling can't help being intrigued by the story of Hoyt and Mazie Wyndfield. Soon, Sterling has more questions than answers about what's been happening there. Will she be able to complete the task that she's been employed to do? The Big Steal is chock full of information about the worths of various antiques along with a really likable and developed main character. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Sterling Glass series, Stealing with Style, and am glad that another has been published. The strength of the book lies in the antiques and in the character, however, not the mystery.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder is the chief of police in Painters Mill, Ohio. After leaving her Amish upbringing behind her at 18, she's now come back to her hometown. When a woman is found brutally murdered on a local farm, Kate's past comes rushing back. When she was a teen, a killer was loose, raping and murdering young women. Kate believed that she had secretly killed him all those years ago, with her father and brother burying him. Now she's not so sure, since the current killer's m.o. is very similar to the one sixteen years ago. Soon, the small town's leaders are panicking and call in outside help to find the murderer. Will Kate be able to sort out the past in order to prevent more deaths? Sworn to Silence is a page turner with an interesting setting, some insight into Amish culture, and a main character that you want to spend more time with. The book is similar to Sallie Bissell's In the Forest of Harm.