Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called to a building site in downtown Norwich because human bones have been discovered. When the bones turn out to be from a child (missing the head), the police-- specifically DCI Harry Nelson--are called in. Later, bones from a cat, also without a skull, are found. Nelson and his team trace the property's ownership to wealthy Edward Spens and look up previous occupants of the home being demolished—a children's home run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, with Father Patrick Hennessey in charge. Father Hennessey reveals that a brother and sister did go missing in the 1970's and were never seen again. The police focus on finding out more about Martin and Elizabeth Black, the children who disappeared, and test the bones to see if they're from the right time period. Ruth, meanwhile, becomes more comfortable with her approaching motherhood, but discovers that someone is trying to scare her to death. Another enjoyable entry in the Ruth Galloway series.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

Dr Ruth Galloway is a professor of forensic archaeology at the University of North Norfolk. DCI Harry Nelson asks her to look at some bones found near Saltmarsh to figure out how old they are. Ten years ago, a young girl named Lucy Downey disappeared and the case has haunted Nelson ever since. He has even been receiving letters from the possible killer over the years. When Ruth carbon dates the bones as being from the Iron Age, Nelson is disappointed, as he thought he could finally bring Lucy's parents some closure. Ruth, single and nearing 40, is happy with her life and the isolation of her cottage near the Saltmarsh with her two cats. After meeting Nelson, however, she finds him in her thoughts even though he's married. When a girl named Scarlet Henderson goes missing and one of Ruth's cat is killed and left on her doorstep, Ruth and Nelson find themselves drawn together to catch a killer. The Crossing Places is the debut of a new series that has a great sense of place and an interesting main character in Ruth. I thoroughly enjoyed it. For readers who like Erin Hart, Gail Bowen, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and the Loretta Lawson mysteries by Joan Smith.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

In the not-too-distant future, Hannah Payne wakes up in the “Chrome ward” with red skin because she had an abortion. Her skin color reflects the crime of murder and she spends thirty days in the Chrome ward with television cameras watching her every move. While on trial, Hannah refused to name the father of her baby--the married man she is in love with, her pastor Reverend Aidan Dale. After leaving the ward, Hannah goes to the Straight Path Center and suffers through extreme humiliation and prejudice and decides to escape. But with “Chromes” marginalized in American society and everyday life fraught with danger, how will Hannah survive? In this contemporary retelling of the The Scarlet Letter, Jordan has written an absorbing novel about identity, religion, and love. If you enjoy When She Woke, try The Things That Keep Us Here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith

Geiger is in the business of information retrieval. His job is to torture people until they tell the truth to his clients. His biggest rule is that he doesn't work with children. When he is mistakenly given a boy named Ezra to try and extract the whereabouts of Ezra's father, David Matheson, Geiger rescues Ezra from his client and goes on the run. The client, though, and his henchman, Hall, Ray, and Mitch, will stop at nothing to retrieve Ezra. Geiger, meanwhile, with no memory of his childhood, begins to slowly remember it. The Inquisitor will appeal to people who liked The Cleaner and books by Lee Child. It will be published in March.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

In 1933, private detective Maisie Dobbs is hired by five men who knew her when she was a girl to find out if the death of Eddie Pettit at Bookhams, a paper factory, was an accident or murder. Eddie worked with the horses at Bookhams and did errands around the place. As Maisie delves into Eddie's life, she finds not everyone liked him, despite his gentle, kind nature. When Maisie's assistant, Billy, is viciously attacked and put in the hospital, she feels personally responsible, since he was questioning factory workers. She also wonders what information someone is trying to keep secret. Against the backdrop of Hitler's rise to power and how it affects England and the rest of the world, Winspear has written another mystery that's hard to put down. With its combination of intriguing characters and interesting historical backdrop, Elegy for Eddie is another winner. It will be published in March.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Silence by Jan Costin Wagner

When a teenage girl named Sinikka goes missing in the same place that another girl disappeared and was found murdered thirty-three earlier, the authorities, especially recently retired police detective Ketola, believe the cases are connected. The death of Pia Lehtinen always weighed on Ketola's mind and he uncovers from the police department's basement the model he created of Pia's murder scene. He gives all this old material to his colleague, Kimmo Joentaa, who is in charge of the new case. Joentaa speaks to both Pia's and Sinikka's families, trying to find some connection between the girls. While Joentaa's investigation moves forward, real estate agent Timo Korvensuo slowly becomes unsettled when he hears of Sinikka's disappearance. It turns out he knows who killed Pia... Silence is the third book in the Kimmo Joentaa series and is most similar to the mysteries of Karin Fossum.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis

Nurse Nina Borg is reluctant to help her friend, Karin, when asked to get a suitcase from a train station locker. After retrieving the suitcase, Nina is stunned to discover an unconscious three-year-old inside. When she starts to report the incident to the authorities, she witnesses a muscular, angry man bashing in the locker from which she took the suitcase. Not confident that the boy would be safe if she turned him in, Nina decides to keep him with her and try and find out who he belongs to. The reader follows Nina on her dangerous journey to make things right. In the novel, the points of view of the boy's mother (Signita) and Jucas (the man hunting Nina and the boy) are also explored. The book reminded me of The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham. For readers who enjoy Scandavian mysteries by Sara Blaedel and Liza Marklund.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Innocent by Taylor Stevens

Vanessa Michael Munroe is asked by her best friend, Logan, to rescue his teenage daughter Hannah from a cult in Argentina. Years ago, Hannah was kidnapped by her mother's boyfriend and taken back to the cult (after a series of escapes). Hannah's days consist of menial chores, praying, and being the plaything of a powerful local man, Mr. Carcan. She has hardly any memories of her real parents. With help from Munroe's friend, Bradford, they pinpoint the cult's locations around Buenos Aires and set up listening devices. Munroe then goes undercover within the cult. But suddenly, Munroe's plans have to quickly change and she has little time to rescue Hannah... The Innocent is the second book in the Munroe series and, while good, can only pale in comparison to the first, The Informationist, which is one of the best books I've read this year, because of its originality and fast-paced storyline. It will be published later this month.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Murder Season by Robert Ellis

When LAPD detective Lena Gamble is called to the murder scene at a hot Hollywood club, she knows that both the media and her colleagues will be watching her closely. When the victims turn out to be the owner of the club, Johnny Bosco, and a man named Jacob Gant, the pressure on her increases considerably. Gant was recently found not guilty of killing his sixteen-year-old neighbor Lily Hight, but the public sentiment was that he was guilty. Many are still emotional about the verdict and what they see as the city's mishandling of the case. When Lena discovers that Gant and Bosco were working together to find Lily's murderer, she realizes that she must go back to the beginning, delving into Lily's personal life and death to solve her case. Murder Season is the third book in the Lena Gamble series and is a great read-alike for Michael Connelly and Robert Crais because of the L.A. setting, pacing, and characterization.