BOOK REVIEWS

Boston Mystery Review
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FRATERNAL BONDS
Thomas Donahue
ISBN-10 1478177225
Paperback $11.69; 354 pp.; $4.99 Kindle
www.amazon.com

In Thomas Donahue’s Fraternal Bonds, slugging it out in the penal system as a Correction Officer has it pros and cons and no one knows this better than veteran CO Stephen Nicholson doing eight hours a day for life at the volatile Boston House. And perhaps no one knows how to portray Nicholson and the day-to-day grind behind maximum-security walls better than Donahue, a veteran CO himself. In Fraternal Bonds Nicholson sides as a licensed private eye making a few easy bucks chasing down dead beats and outfoxing would-be insurance flim-flamers. But when a modern-day robber baron with a connection to Nicholson’s past hires him to investigate the cold case murder of his daughter, Nicholson finds himself dragged into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a psychopathic killer “The Olympian,” who savagely murders an unsuspecting female every four years. Now, in a race against time, Nicholson and his new love interest, police detective Melanie Leary—who is as savvy and smart as she is sexy—must join forces in order to thwart the Olympian’s next bloody conquest. Fraternal Bonds nails it! Boston and beyond hasn’t seen this much grit and bad-guy bruising since Robert B. Parker’s Spenser busted into the scene.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

Fraternal Bonds, by Thomas Donahue
   
   

MURDER IN LA-LA LAND
Sisters in Crime Los Angeles Chapter
$12.95
Available Now www.amazon.com

New York has it's Big Apple, New Orleans has the Big Easy, Chicago has the Sears Tower and the wind, but Los Angeles (L.A. to some) has never really had a symbol of its own. L.A. has always been a diverse and sprawling city that has defied any symbol or typecasting. That is part of the reason why the new anthology "Murder in La-La Land" by Top Publications is so refreshing. A collection of twelve short stories that cover all the diversity and uniqueness of Los Angeles. The one thing that unites these stories is L.A.'s reputation for the strange and outrageous.

Paul D. Marks' story "Continental Tilt" starts the collection off like a roller coaster ride through the streets of Los Angeles, from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where people enjoy a picnic dinner as they watch vampire movies projected onto the mausoleum wall, to a psychic, palm reading Second Life Counselor on L.A.'s tony West Side and that's just the beginning. Two cynical LAPD detectives are called into this scene to investigate a vampire-style murder that occurs during the movie screening. To say the least, they are out of their element from that moment on. I won't give away the ending here, you will just have to read the story for yourself, but suffice to say it is laugh out loud funny and takes stabs at everything from designer caskets to the Hollywood elite.

And if you enjoy watching celebrities in strapless gowns at Hollywood awards shows in sunny Southern California while you shiver in the middle of an East coast blizzard, you will also enjoy Jude McGee's "Death is Golden." This story gives a new meaning to the Golden Globe awards and a dress "to die for."
La-La overall is a great ride, especially if you like humorous mysteries and edgy stories, or just want to find out what really goes on in La-La Confidential Land. A terrific Sisters in Crime volume.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

Murder In La-La Land
   
   

SCOOP
Author: Hannah Dennison
Category: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
ISBN 13: 978-0-425-22643-8
Distribution: www.amazon.com
Price: $6.99; PP.300

Hannah Dennison's central character in her delightful Vicky Hill series, is no Fletch - she has to work for a living!  In this second novel of the series Scoop,  poor Vicky is back at it-despite her smashing success as a reporter in A Vicky Hill Exclusive!-logging her time and talent in the obituary column.  Nothing, however,-except maybe her love life or lack thereof-can keep this reporter from trying to break the big story.  Vicky knows small-town politics and is right at home in the sleepy English town of Gipping-on-Plym.  Is it really plausible that champion hedge cutter Gordon Berry would so foolishly cut a power line with his own clippers bringing a shocking end to his burgeoning career?  When fisticuffs and nasty rumors of foul play steal all the fun out of the funeral, Vicky begins to uncover the real scoop.  Will bad dates, mortal danger, and a nasty secret of her own keep her from making headlines?  Maybe.  After all, Gipping-on-Plym is still very English and a venue where scandals are still scandalous.    

Born in Old Basing, Hampshire, Dennison knows her small-village England so well you might add her to Vicky's list of slippery suspects.  The most lovable mystery solver to cross the herring pond since Rumpole.  Great fun.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review 

Scoop: Hannah Dennison
   

NO PLACE TO RUN
Author: Thomas B. Sawyer
Category: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense
Publisher: Sterling & Ross Publishers
ISBN 13: 978-0-9814535-4-5
Trim Size: 334 pp.
Distribution: www.amazon.com
Price: $14.95

Thomas B. Sawyer, head writer and showrunner of the CBS hit series Murder She wrote and author of the indispensable Fiction Writing Demystified, has penned one of the year’s great thrillers, No Place to Run.

Attorney Bill Lawrence’s hitman client, convicted of the one murder he didn’t commit, confides a bombshell that will buy his freedom – and change history: details of a contract he carried out on September 11, 2001 that made him an unwitting accomplice in the larger, terrible events of that day. Finding the explosive documents, Bill immediately arranges for his family to enter the witness protection program, much to the dismay of his precocious 12 year-old son, Adam, and outright anger of 24-year-old daughter, Claudia, who’s wrenched from her career and fiancé. Then, Bill and his wife are killed by a car bomb, the hitman assassinated in jail. Framed for her parents’ murder, Claudia and Adam become fugitives and are forced to deal with their personal baggage while on the run from police and rogue FBI agents desperate to kill them. Their only hope: find the papers their father possessed, and then figure out their meaning. She and Adam set out on a harrowing cross-country quest that ends on a Chesapeake Bay estate. There, in an ultra-tense climax, Claudia finally deciphers the ugly secrets behind 9/11. Will she live to tell about it?

No Place to Run features Sawyer’s famous cinematic prose and, dialogue so authentic it could be bugged by Shadow Ops. A brilliant and fascinating thriller that not only consumes the reader’s imagination, but promotes thoughtful discussion. Worthy of Sawyer’s meticulous standards.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

No Place To Run
   

REVENGE FOR OLD TIMES’ SAKE
Author: KRIS NERI
Category: Mystery/Humor/Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Cherokee McGhee Mystery
Pub Date: March 30, 2010
ISBN 13: 978-0-9799694-5-4
ISBN 10: 0-9799694-5-X
Trim Size: 6 x 9; 251 pages
Distribution: Available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor
Price: $16.95
Contact: Greg Lilly; Publisher@cherokeemcghee.com

The lovable, witty, and all-too-family-prodded Tracy Eaton is at it again in Tinsel Town in Revenge for Old Times’ Sake, by multi-Derringer Award winner Kris Neri. In this suspenseful thriller Eaton finds herself spreading shoeleather in hopes of saving husband Drew—who seems to be the only one fingered by the fuzz—from getting snapped for murder. Unfortunately for Drew, his tall-glass-of-water boss, Ian Dragger is found iced – floating face down in the Eaton’s pool! Fortunately—or maybe not so fortunately for Eaton—she won’t have to unravel the truth behind Dragger’s mysterious death on her own. Her very funny, over-the-top movie actress mother, Martha Collins is at the ready along with Eaton’s rigid mother-in-law Charlotte Eaton, who probably hasn’t been this scandalized since a third cousin was once outted for serving margarine at a Daughters of Malibu benefit. And if that isn’t enough, Drew’s ex, Attroney CeeCee Payne has joined the Ladies’ Number One Tinsel Town Team of gumshoes – or has she? Perhaps she’s just out to prove that Hell hath no fury like a scorned attorney-at-law?

Throw in a generous splash of Neri’s cleaver humor, usual talent for suspense and plotting, larger than life-characters, and a school of dead bodies and you have the best Eaton mystery in some time and that’s saying something. Revenge for Old Times’ Sake is a sheer joy to read and treasure among your literary greats.

–Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

   

Police Procedure & Investigation
A Guide for Writers

By Lee Lofland; Foreword by Stuart Kaminsky
368 pp., Paperback $19.99 U.S./$24.99 CAN.
ISBN-13: 978-1-58297-455-2
Writer’s Digest Books — August 2007
www.Amazon.com

Pull over, step away from your vehicle, and approach your nearest book dealer. Police Procedure & Investigation: A Guide for Writers, by former homicide detective Lee Lofland, is the final word on this often-botched subject.

Much of quality fiction is in actual details and Police Procedure has them right down to an officer’s patent leather shoes. No kidding. There is actually a section on officer apparel and how it can affect law enforcement. As for the heavy-hitting content, Procedure discusses with absolute authenticity—among many other things—arrest and search procedures, crime scene investigation, fingerprinting, and the courts and the legal process. Do you want to know more about police codes? In there. Prisons? Drugs? Police academy? Internal affairs? Need a handy glossary on how to understand the fuzz? Want to know how flies can corrupt bloodstains? — all laid out meticulously in Procedure. Or maybe you need to brush up on Spiral Search Patterns, Block Search Patterns, and Strip Search Patterns? Not a problem. Just cruise over to Chapter 7 and sweep the area. Procedure is like having your own Homicide and DA squad on duty and at the ready 24-7.

For the queasy, take a nausea remedy and swipe peanut butter under your nose before the autopsy chapter because what you are about to read and see about the autopsy process is the real McCoy. (That’s right, peanut butter. Real veterans on the job smear peanut butter under their nose in order to help shroud the smell of decaying corpses.) None of the autopsy chapter is gratuitous, however. Lofland opens with an excellent history of the autopsy that would satisfy even the most exacting historical novelist.

Finally, did you ever wonder how suspense authors like Jeffrey Deaver, Lee Goldberg, and Jan Burke get this police procedure stuff right? Well, the secret is out — they get on the horn to book and TV consultant Lee Lofland.

Police Procedure & Investigation is the tour-de-force police procedural guide for aspiring and established authors and ought to be a staple in every law school library. A big 10-4 loud and clear.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

   

Prime Time
By Hank Phillippi Ryan
276 pp, Paperback $5.50 U.S./$6.50 CAN.
ISBN: 13: 978-0-373-88135-2
Harlequin — June 2007
www.Amazon.com

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s debut novel Prime Time is out and on the case! Could annoying e-mail spam really lead to a scoop about murder, multimillion-dollar fraud, and double cross? One thing is for certain, nothing is going to stop Boston’s very own TV 3 investigative reporter Charlotte “Charlie” McNally from lacing up her track shoes to see what she can uncover. But as she begins to unravel the scandal-laden e-mails she confronts road block after road block including bent-nosed threats, a breakneck car chase, bottom line bosses, and a new man in her life Josh Gelston, who for some reason, just can’t be trusted—or can he? McNally is a pen-to-the-grindstone reporter with a nose for news, but not always men — except for the ever-faithful Franklin Parrish. Parrish, McNally’s fearless producer is ever ready to thwart bad guys and the powers-that-be who are determined to see McNally “fade out” from the screen. Sometimes, however, to McNally’s playful chagrin, Parrish is a bit too willing to offer his male spin on the modern dating scene.

Prime Time is a suspenseful, humorous, and cyber-hip mystery that gives readers an authentic, full-Monte view of the high-stakes world of television journalism. I felt like I was spreading shoe leather alongside a seasoned investigative reporter and indeed I was. Ryan’s wonderful sidebars about What they didn’t teach you in journalism school . . . don’t print that!—I mean J-school—are not only enjoyable, but insightful enough to make Prime Time required reading for any aspiring journalist. And as for what the reader learns about romance? It ought to be required reading for all men, too! A delightful take-you-away read.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

 

   

LAndmarked for Murder
Editors: Harley Jane Kozak, Michael Mallory, Nathan Walpow
Featured authors: Gay Ann Degani, G. B. Pool, Darrell James, Dee Ann Palmer, Paul D. Marks, Kate Thornton, Jinx Beers, Pamela Samuels-Young, Arthur Coburn, and A. H. Ream.
$14.95
ISBN: 0-9666366-37-2
Top Publishers

LAndmarked for Murder is a collection of mystery stories set in and around various Los Angeles landmarks, hence the title. The landmarks range from Tommy Trojan at USC, to the Venice Canals, Cal Tech and Sleepy Lagoon, infamous for sparking the Zoot Suit riots of the 1940s. And while the landmarks provide interesting backdrops, the real essence of these stories are the characters and how they deal with their dilemmas.

Standouts include "Setup," by Pamela Samuels-Young, about a black attorney defending a white cop in these highly charged times. Nobody's faultless in this story where nothing is really what it seems. Arthur Coburn's "Some Creature I Care About" is a quirky story about a man, his animal trainer girlfriend and the bum living next door...  "Leaving Slackerland," is Gay Degani's story of Nikki, a woman living on the fringe and her shady ex-boyfriend. Nikki is someone who wants to put all of this behind her, but first has to remain out of the line of fire. The story is as much about Nikki's growing up as it is about solving a murder. And Paul D. Marks' "Sleepy Lagoon Nocturne" takes us back to the era of Zoot Suits and World War II, with his recurring character jazz pianist Bobby Saxon. Bobby has more on his mind than just a beautiful woman in a mysterious photograph and simply solving the case of a missing person. But the real mystery here is what makes Bobby tick.  Overall a very fine collection and something for everyone and every taste.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

 

   
Murder at Heartbreak Hospital
By Henry Slesar
252pp, Paperback, 5X8, $15.95
ISBN: 13: 978-0-89733-486-0
Academy Chicago Publishers
www.academychicago.com


Multiple Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning novelist Henry Slesar delivers a classic, unshakable alibi mystery set in the soap opera world in Murder at Heartbreak Hospital. Slesar, a veteran TV writer for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man from UNCLE, Batman, Run for your Life, and ABC Movie of the Week, knows his subject well and especially shines at characterization. The soap stars, producers, and “scripters” are just as we might imagine them: self-absorbed right down to their bunny slippers. A witty and fast-paced look at the behind-the-scenes antics of the modern-day soap opera, Murder at Heartbreak Hospital is an enjoyable and amusing read worthy of the Freeman Wills Crofts unshakable alibi tradition.

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

 

   

Murder Across the Map
Edited by Cindy Daniel
May, 2005
Top Publications, Ltd.
$14.00 www.Amazon.com

MURDER ACROSS THE MAP is an enjoyable, top-notch collection of short mystery stories. The nice thing about anthologies is that you get a variety of styles and sub-genres to choose from. This anthology delivers everything from cozy to noir. So whether you want to spend a day down home in Texas with a "Peanut Queen" or take a time trip back to the Gardens of Babylon or bang on the eighty eights at the Club Alabam in L.A., there is something for everyone. Paul Marks' story "The Good Old Days," set in a 1940's LA jazz club, is full of noir intrigue and has an unusual twist that makes it an especially satisfying read.

I found myself laughing out loud as I read Gesine Schulz's story "Deadly Dessous" about a death at a lingerie exhibition (involving one of Madonna's bras no less!). Other notable stories are "Death by Trial and Error" by R.
Barri Flowers and "Death in the Gardens" by Roberta Rogow. If you love mysteries give this anthology a try. You won't be disappointed and you won't be crying foul that the butler did it!

—Andrew McAleer, Boston Mystery Review

 

 
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