Category Archives: Mystery

** Twisted Prey by John Sandford

I thoroughly enjoyed Twisted Prey, which stars a demonic female senator who will stop at nothing to annihilate her enemies in her quest to become president of the United States. The investigator, a calm Minnesotan, strategizes while his two wonderful sidekicks gleefully execute dangerous deeds. As the body count mounts, his final hint comes from her perfume, which I thought was perhaps the one weakness of the book, an awkward and old-fashioned concept of an otherwise perfectly terrifying woman.

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*** Persons Unknown by Manon Bradshaw

Manon Bradshaw returns in Persons Unknown, in theory confined to cold cases but caught in a murder mystery because her adopted son is a prime suspect, and she must get him out of the youth home where he is utterly miserable. The murder ends up being an incredibly complicated international intrigue, but the family connections to it are complicated and dark. A wonderful portrait of a working mom.

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** The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon

Fancy a trip to Venice? The Temptation of Forgiveness gives the reader a reasonably satisfying plot with lots of local color — so much that the book is more a travelogue than a mystery. It’s the 27th installment in the series, so past readers must have enjoyed the trips very much! Beyond the Venetian stories, the scenario is quite basic, but with complex main characters who generously share their musings about their private concerns.

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*** Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

The heroine of Need to Know is a CIA analyst and happily married mother of four who discovers that her husband is not quite who he claims to be. She spends the entire book trying to disentangle herself, and him, from the ever-tightening scrutiny of the agency. The writing is sometimes not as tight as I would have liked, and some of the situations are hard to believe (really, a computer with a USB port in a room without a camera??) but the twists continue until the very end, and I mean the very last word of the story.

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*** The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window is a New York psychologist whose agoraphobia prevents her from leaving the house. Even retrieving a package from her doorstep is an ordeal. New neighbors move in, and with them a teenager who seems to be the only person who can penetrate her life — and then it all goes very wrong, in completely unexpected ways. It’s a delightful mystery with plenty of twists and a harrowing ending.

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*** What The Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson

 

What the Dead Leave Behind stars a plucky heiress whose stepmother is plotting against her and who literally fights for her life with the help of loyal servants and various family friends. The story is told with abundant, self-conscious period details (even though the very personality of the heroine is quite anachronistic).

The twists and turns go on just a tad too long, but overall an entertaining plot and set of characters.

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** Righteous by Joe Die

 Righteous opens with violence and violence continues throughout the PI hero’s adventures in Las Vegas, improbably taking on Chinese gangsters involved in human trafficking and their temporary allies, local Hispanic gangs. Non-stop action and a wonderfully complex main character paper over the improbabilities of the plot and the naivety of the PI’s love life.

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