Tag Archives: murder mystery

Book Review: Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

2 May

Genre: Historical fiction/Crime fiction

Series: Maisie Dobbs #9

Publisher: Harper Collins (Harper)

Pub date: 27 March 2012

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis

In this ninth book of the series, Maisie is approached by her father’s friends to look into the death of Eddie. Eddie is a little ‘slow’ but has an amazing ability to talk to horses. When he dies in a factory accident, his friends suspect that there was more to it. Only too happy to repay these men for all the help they gave her family, Maisie takes on the case.

Review

This is only the second Maisie Dobbs book I’ve read, (Review for A Lesson in Secrets) but already there is a feeling of going back to old friends. In this story, Maisie is dealing with her discomfort with where her life is. Still not at ease with her sudden riches and uncomfortable in high society, Maisie is also questioning her relationship with James.

As with other Maisie books, there is a lot more to the story than just the unraveling of the mystery. But perhaps in this one, the suspicious death of Eddie Potts is just the background to other events in our heroine’s life and the world at large. Maisie goes back to her poor Lambeth roots to get to the bottom of what happened to Eddie. Eddie was a horse whisperer at a time when horses were being replaced by cars. The questions remains: who would want to harm this child-like man?

The second world war looms larger on the horizon, and in Maisie life, we see her take stock of her situation. More and more she comes to realise that she is overgenerous and controlling of the people around her. This stems from her guilt of sudden riches, but leaves the people around feeling indebted and unable to repay her. Despite all her activity and social contacts, Maisie comes across as a lonely young woman who misses the simple friendships that many other women enjoy. We see her make some difficult decisions about her life and make some changes.

Eddie’s story is a touching one and finding out what really happened also takes us into the world of war, politics and propaganda. Maisie is at a crossroads in her life and I look forward to seeing where she goes from here.

Verdict

Definitely recommended for fans of the series. If you’re starting to get to know Maisie here, be warmed, the mystery takes the backseat and this is more an introspective novel.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Book Review: The Hurt Machine by Reed Farrel Coleman

16 Jan

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Series: Moe Prager #7

Publisher: Tyrus Books

Pub date: 18 Sep 2011

Source:Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis (From GoodReads)

At a pre-wedding party for his daughter Sarah, Moe Prager is approached by his ex-wife and former PI partner Carmella Melendez. It seems Carmella’s estranged sister Alta has been murdered, but no one in New York City seems to care. Why? Alta, a FDNY EMT, and her partner had months earlier refused to give assistance to a dying man at a fancy downtown eatery. Moe decides to help Carmella as a means to distract himself from his own life and death struggle. Making headway on the case is no mean feat as no one, including Alta’s partner Maya Watson, wants to cooperate. Moe chips away until he discovers a cancer roiling just below the surface, a cancer whose symptoms include bureaucratic greed, sexual harassment, and blackmail. But is any of it connected to Alta’s brutal murder?

Review

Moe Prager is a brilliant character and a tenacious detective. Hurt Machine is the seventh in this series and I only wish I had met Prager eariler in, what I can only imagine was an explosive career. Not only is Prager long-retired and dealing with issues of aging, his doctor has given him a very unpleasant prognosis.

So when Carmella, his ex-wife asks him to look into this case, just weeks before his daughter’s wedding, he takes it on as a means to distract himself from the scary inevitable. Why did Alta and her partner refuse medical assistance? What were they doing at this fancy expensive restaurant? And was Alta’s murder in any way related to this incident?

The mystery itself is rather complicated and the people that Prager goes to for information are not forthcoming, The Fire Department is livid that Alta and her partner Maya have given the whole department a bad reputation. Maya Watson has broken under all the stress and the hounding by the press and is a reluctant witness. Other people that Prager digs up give him little driblets of information. On the whole, the case doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Nothing that Prager finds out seems to show Alta is a good light, and he worries about how he can tell her sister this.

As the investigation progresses, Prager finds many suspects and deals with the seedy side of life. Through the course of this investigation, Prager also deals with questions of death and hurt – the way we inflict hurt on each other and the inevitable reality of death. He finds himself thinking a lot about life, lies, hurt and death in a way that slips right in with the story.

Verdict

Highly recommended for fans of crime fiction. This story worked rather well as a stand-alone, but I suspect I would have got even more out of it if I had followed the series in order.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Book Review: The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose

21 Dec

Genre: Thriller

Series: Butterfield Institute #1

Publisher: MIRA

Pub date: July 2005

Source:Personal copy (won in Twitter contest)

Synopsis

Dr. Morgan Snow is one of the top sex therapists who practices at the Butterfield Institute. She sees a range of patients: those who were abused, couples who have lost the spark and those grappling with secret fetishes. One of her clients is Cleo Thane, a high-class prostitute, with whom Snow feels an immediate connection. Cleo has written an autobiographical book about her life and clients. Although she has disguised the identity her clients, she thinks that publishing the book could get her into trouble. Cleo asks Morgan Snow to read the book and tell her if it is a good idea to go ahead and publish it. Before Morgan can warn Cleo that this is a bad idea, Cleo disappears.

Detective Noah Jordain is on the hunt for a serial killer who is targeting prostitutes and killing them ritualistically. He comes to Dr. Snow for a consult, but Morgan has to help him without breaching patient confidentiality. Will she be able to help Jordain and save Cleo in time?

Review

The Halo Effect is the first of the Butterfield Institute series. Morgan Snow is an easy character to like and admire. She is at a difficult point in her life – her marriage of many years has just ended and her almost teenage daughter is not being easy to handle.

When Detective Jordain comes to her asking for help on the serial killer case, she is rather torn. Cleo is one of her patients and she feels responsible for her, but talking to the Detective about Cleo or her book will mean a breach of confidence, which is all-important in her line of work.

The more Snow comes to know about the Cleo’s life, she is determined that she has to do something to help her, and save her if it’s not too late. Snow enters Cleo’s dangerous world in the hopes of finding out if any of the men she was seeing knew about the book and killed Cleo to prevent it from being published. But she might have stepped into something that is rather more dangerous.

Jordain and Snow work parallel cases which come together as they race to save Cleo and find the serial killer.

I’ve read other thrillers by M.J. Rose before and enjoyed them hugely. Somehow this one lacked quite the same excitement. I liked Morgan Snow, but had a difficult time liking or believing the rest of the characters in this story. The Halo Effect is the first book of this series, and from reading reviews online I see that the subsequent books are stronger.

Verdict

Recommended for someone who likes fast thrillers. But definitely not the best I’ve read in this genre or by Rose. Snow is a sex therapist, Cleo a prostitute and there is definite sexual element in the serial killings – so it goes without saying that the story is sexually explicit and gruesome. Don’t pick it up if you’re sensitive!

Rating: 3.5*

*See my Rating policy

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© Stargazerpuj and Stargazerpuj’s Book Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Book Review: Dominance by Will Lavender

4 Jul

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pub date: 5 July 2011

Source: S&S Galley Grab

Synopsis

Fifteen years ago, Alex Shipley and small bunch of students were part of a controversial course – Unraveling a Literary Mystery – at Jasper College. The course was controversial because it was taught by literature professor Richard Aldiss via a video feed from his prison cell. Aldiss was convicted of murdering two college students.

Alex made her name in this course and is now a Harvard professor. She found out the real identity of Paul Fellows, but more dramatically, helped acquit Aldiss of the heinous murders. Now when the entire class has come together after many years for a reunion, one of them gets murdered in the same way as the crimes that Aldiss was accused of. Can she discover the identity of the killer and stop him before he picks them off one by one?

Review

If you’ve read some of my older posts, you can’t have missed my obsession with forensic murder mysteries and procedural dramas. Lavender deftly adds a layer of academia to all this, making this novel a winner with me. At the start of the story, we see this class of students studying Unraveling a Literary Mystery. That sounds intriguing enough. But their professor is a convicted murderer who discusses two novels by Paul Fellows, a writer so reclusive that no one knows his identity. The premise is that there are clues in the two published novels of this writer, The Coil and The Golden Silence and the students have to follow them to find out who the author really is while also learning to decode a Literary Mystery. The students of the class go about solving the mystery of the author’s identity by playing a dangerous game called the Procedure.

There was quite a big gap between my reading of this book and sitting down to write the review. So I had to reread some of it to remind me of characters names. But the plot, that I had no problem recalling.

This is brilliantly crafted, tightly plotted story that kept me guessing to the very end. Aldiss is a creepily memorable character and I kept wondering: what is his real motivation and why does he have such power over Alex? Dominance kept me up late, feverishly turning the pages because I had to find out what really happened.

Of course, I can’t say too much more without ruining the plot, so I’m going to stop right here. I am definitely going to be reading Lavender’s earlier work, Obedience really soon.

Verdict

Highly recommended. Definite read for fans of literary thrillers and murder mysteries.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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