Virtually Dead
Oline H. Cogdill

When our lives become too complicated, overrun with confrontations, debts and emotional turmoil, the desire to escape can be overwhelming. In Peter May’s entertaining Virtually Dead, a virtual world becomes preferable to reality for crime scene photographer Michael Kapinsky.Michael’s life is in chaos. The death of his wealthy wife has left him grief-stricken, depressed and in debt. While his wife, Mora, had inherited millions, her lavish lifestyle and a legal battle with the family of her first husband has left Michael an inheritance of overdue bills and a staggering mortgage. He begins to find solace in the virtual world called Second Life, which his therapist suggests as a kind of group therapy.There, his avatar is moviestar handsome Chas Chesnokov, a fearless agent of the Twist of Fate Detective Agency. But the virtual and real worlds collide when both the the avatars and their real life counterparts start being murdered. Chas and an exotic dancer avatar begin an investigation that centers on greed and control.

May (The Enzo Files) keeps a firm hand as Virtually Dead alternates between Michael’s real-life struggles and his avatar’s fantasy life. The plot moves briskly with surprise twists and a believable conclusion. May not only makes Michael a sympathetic, likable character, but also imbues Chas with a solid personality and a fearlessness that makes him a true hero. Online you can be whoever or whatever you want to be as May believably shows.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 14:42:20

When our lives become too complicated, overrun with confrontations, debts and emotional turmoil, the desire to escape can be overwhelming. In Peter May’s entertaining Virtually Dead, a virtual world becomes preferable to reality for crime scene photographer Michael Kapinsky.Michael’s life is in chaos. The death of his wealthy wife has left him grief-stricken, depressed and in debt. While his wife, Mora, had inherited millions, her lavish lifestyle and a legal battle with the family of her first husband has left Michael an inheritance of overdue bills and a staggering mortgage. He begins to find solace in the virtual world called Second Life, which his therapist suggests as a kind of group therapy.There, his avatar is moviestar handsome Chas Chesnokov, a fearless agent of the Twist of Fate Detective Agency. But the virtual and real worlds collide when both the the avatars and their real life counterparts start being murdered. Chas and an exotic dancer avatar begin an investigation that centers on greed and control.

May (The Enzo Files) keeps a firm hand as Virtually Dead alternates between Michael’s real-life struggles and his avatar’s fantasy life. The plot moves briskly with surprise twists and a believable conclusion. May not only makes Michael a sympathetic, likable character, but also imbues Chas with a solid personality and a fearlessness that makes him a true hero. Online you can be whoever or whatever you want to be as May believably shows.

Baja Florida
Bob Morris

Florida author Bob Morris continues to show his affinity for the action and appealing heroes in his fifth novel about Zack Chasteen, a former Miami Dolphin turned amateur sleuth. Baja Florida isn’t in the Sunshine State but that’s how Zack describes the Bahamas where the land is spread out over more than 3,000 islands with “plenty of places to hide.”

In Baja Florida, Zack is called on to try and find the missing daughter of his old friend Mickey Ryser. When Zack was growing up, an orphan being raised by his grandfather, Mickey took Zack under his wing, showing him how to surf and, in many ways, how to be a man. Now a millionaire, Mickey is dying with one last wish to reunite with Jen, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby. Jen is supposed to be heading from Charleston, S.C. to the Bahamas to finally meet her dad on the new sailboat she recently bought—but she has gone missing, one of her friends has jumped ship, and Mickey can’t find the private detective he originally hired to find her. Zack’s investigation leads him to an international piracy ring that targets private yachts.

With modern pirates too often in the news, Baja FloridaBaja Florida more than just a ripped from the headlines story. Edgar nominee Morris keeps Baja Florida on a steady course as he crisscrosses the islands, showing the real Bahamians whose lives have little to do with the tourists who visit.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 15:37:19

Florida author Bob Morris continues to show his affinity for the action and appealing heroes in his fifth novel about Zack Chasteen, a former Miami Dolphin turned amateur sleuth. Baja Florida isn’t in the Sunshine State but that’s how Zack describes the Bahamas where the land is spread out over more than 3,000 islands with “plenty of places to hide.”

In Baja Florida, Zack is called on to try and find the missing daughter of his old friend Mickey Ryser. When Zack was growing up, an orphan being raised by his grandfather, Mickey took Zack under his wing, showing him how to surf and, in many ways, how to be a man. Now a millionaire, Mickey is dying with one last wish to reunite with Jen, the daughter he hasn’t seen since she was a baby. Jen is supposed to be heading from Charleston, S.C. to the Bahamas to finally meet her dad on the new sailboat she recently bought—but she has gone missing, one of her friends has jumped ship, and Mickey can’t find the private detective he originally hired to find her. Zack’s investigation leads him to an international piracy ring that targets private yachts.

With modern pirates too often in the news, Baja FloridaBaja Florida more than just a ripped from the headlines story. Edgar nominee Morris keeps Baja Florida on a steady course as he crisscrosses the islands, showing the real Bahamians whose lives have little to do with the tourists who visit.

The First Rule
Hank Wagner

Crais’ second full Joe Pike adventure finds the ex-mercenary, ex-cop, PI, and gun shop owner out for vengeance against the gang responsible for the savage slaughter of former comrade Frank Meyer and his family. Assisted by his associate and friend Elvis Cole (the hero of several other Crais’ novels), Pike launches an investigation to discover just why his friend, who the authorities suspect may have been involved in an illicit arms deal, was murdered. Dismissing that possibility of Frank’s guilt out of hand, the lethal Pike doggedly pursues a gang of Eastern European mobsters led by one Michael Darko to uncover the truth and avenge his friend, creating mayhem wherever he goes.

It’s interesting that Crais dedicates his latest to “Harlan Ellison, whose work, perhaps more than any other, brought me to this place,” in that the book’s larger than life hero, Joe Pike, shares many traits with the larger than life writer, chief among them unswerving loyalty to his friends and unrelenting enmity toward his enemies. Crais also shares many traits with Ellison, exemplified by his electric prose, deft plotting, and his wicked, winning way with an action scene. And, like Ellison, he’s careful to provide a few subtle touches to show that his hero, while certainly extraordinary, is also a human being, as evidenced by Pike’s reaction to a dog who has been abused by a bad actor, and the tender connection he forges with an infant who plays a key role in the story.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:01:07

Crais’ second full Joe Pike adventure finds the ex-mercenary, ex-cop, PI, and gun shop owner out for vengeance against the gang responsible for the savage slaughter of former comrade Frank Meyer and his family. Assisted by his associate and friend Elvis Cole (the hero of several other Crais’ novels), Pike launches an investigation to discover just why his friend, who the authorities suspect may have been involved in an illicit arms deal, was murdered. Dismissing that possibility of Frank’s guilt out of hand, the lethal Pike doggedly pursues a gang of Eastern European mobsters led by one Michael Darko to uncover the truth and avenge his friend, creating mayhem wherever he goes.

It’s interesting that Crais dedicates his latest to “Harlan Ellison, whose work, perhaps more than any other, brought me to this place,” in that the book’s larger than life hero, Joe Pike, shares many traits with the larger than life writer, chief among them unswerving loyalty to his friends and unrelenting enmity toward his enemies. Crais also shares many traits with Ellison, exemplified by his electric prose, deft plotting, and his wicked, winning way with an action scene. And, like Ellison, he’s careful to provide a few subtle touches to show that his hero, while certainly extraordinary, is also a human being, as evidenced by Pike’s reaction to a dog who has been abused by a bad actor, and the tender connection he forges with an infant who plays a key role in the story.

False Convictions
Oline H. Cogdill

Fighting for the innocent and helping those falsely accused of crimes are prime goals for Texas attorney Casey Jordon. So she is eager to lend her skills to the Freedom Project, a non-profit organization that seems to be committed to the same ideals—freeing wrongfully convicted prisoners. To sweeten the deal, the group’s founder Robert Graham will give Casey’s legal clinic $1 million a year to handle just two cases. Robert’s down-home personality and good looks are a bonus.

Casey’s first case is to free Dwayne Hubbard, a black man who was convicted of the rape and murder of a popular college girl more than 17 years before. The case is resolved quickly, mainly because Casey finds that Dwayne may have been framed by the police force, judge, and jury in his small town in upstate New York. While Casey believes in her client’s innocence, she’s willing to listen to TV reporter Jake Carlson’s concerns that her benefactor Graham has ties to the mob.

The brisk plotting and surprise twists make False Convictions exciting from start to finish. Green’s third novel featuring Casey, and his 14th novel to date, realistically explores how the law can be manipulated, even with the best of intentions. Green captures the insular nature of a small town without resorting to clichés.

Casey, Robert, and Jake are stock characters, but Green makes us care about each of them and their motivations. The author adds just enough shading to each character to make her or him distinctive, and to reveal a layer under each person’s surface personality. And the chemistry between Casey and the two male characters adds to the fun. I hope Green will continue to focus on Casey. She’s worthy of additional novels.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:08:23

Fighting for the innocent and helping those falsely accused of crimes are prime goals for Texas attorney Casey Jordon. So she is eager to lend her skills to the Freedom Project, a non-profit organization that seems to be committed to the same ideals—freeing wrongfully convicted prisoners. To sweeten the deal, the group’s founder Robert Graham will give Casey’s legal clinic $1 million a year to handle just two cases. Robert’s down-home personality and good looks are a bonus.

Casey’s first case is to free Dwayne Hubbard, a black man who was convicted of the rape and murder of a popular college girl more than 17 years before. The case is resolved quickly, mainly because Casey finds that Dwayne may have been framed by the police force, judge, and jury in his small town in upstate New York. While Casey believes in her client’s innocence, she’s willing to listen to TV reporter Jake Carlson’s concerns that her benefactor Graham has ties to the mob.

The brisk plotting and surprise twists make False Convictions exciting from start to finish. Green’s third novel featuring Casey, and his 14th novel to date, realistically explores how the law can be manipulated, even with the best of intentions. Green captures the insular nature of a small town without resorting to clichés.

Casey, Robert, and Jake are stock characters, but Green makes us care about each of them and their motivations. The author adds just enough shading to each character to make her or him distinctive, and to reveal a layer under each person’s surface personality. And the chemistry between Casey and the two male characters adds to the fun. I hope Green will continue to focus on Casey. She’s worthy of additional novels.

Among Thieves
Oline H. Cogdill

In 1990, paintings now worth a half billion dollars were stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They’ve never been found. David Hosp bases his third novel about Boston attorney Scott Finn on that real event for a skillfully rendered tale that is rich in atmosphere and carefully crafted subplots. Connecting the Boston mob, IRA terrorists, and a high-profile art theft might seem overly ambitious, but Hosp pulls together these myriad story threads into an exciting plot.

Scott has defended low-level career criminal Devon Malley before, so he thinks he knows what he’s getting into when the thief gets arrested again. But there’s more at stake than a charge of burglarizing a high-end clothing store. Devon’s connections—and his alibis—are members of Boston’s underworld who are being murdered in ways that suggest the IRA is involved. Devon’s link to the art theft spurs on Scott’s investigation, but also makes Devon the target of ex-IRA operative, Liam Kilbranish, whose brutality makes the local mobsters seem like choirboys.

Hosp’s inventive storytelling keeps Among Thieves on a fast track. The various subplots, including the personal lives of his associates Tom Kozlowski and Lissa Krantz, are believable and never seem forced. Finn’s rough and tumble background, and his transition to being an attorney, give Hosp’s novels heft. But the savvy lawyer may have met his match in Devon’s 14-year-old daughter Sally, whose life with a drug addict mother has hardened her and made her wary of adults. Hosp’s life-changing surprises for Finn and his associates hints that this series will continue its exciting track.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:17:22

In 1990, paintings now worth a half billion dollars were stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They’ve never been found. David Hosp bases his third novel about Boston attorney Scott Finn on that real event for a skillfully rendered tale that is rich in atmosphere and carefully crafted subplots. Connecting the Boston mob, IRA terrorists, and a high-profile art theft might seem overly ambitious, but Hosp pulls together these myriad story threads into an exciting plot.

Scott has defended low-level career criminal Devon Malley before, so he thinks he knows what he’s getting into when the thief gets arrested again. But there’s more at stake than a charge of burglarizing a high-end clothing store. Devon’s connections—and his alibis—are members of Boston’s underworld who are being murdered in ways that suggest the IRA is involved. Devon’s link to the art theft spurs on Scott’s investigation, but also makes Devon the target of ex-IRA operative, Liam Kilbranish, whose brutality makes the local mobsters seem like choirboys.

Hosp’s inventive storytelling keeps Among Thieves on a fast track. The various subplots, including the personal lives of his associates Tom Kozlowski and Lissa Krantz, are believable and never seem forced. Finn’s rough and tumble background, and his transition to being an attorney, give Hosp’s novels heft. But the savvy lawyer may have met his match in Devon’s 14-year-old daughter Sally, whose life with a drug addict mother has hardened her and made her wary of adults. Hosp’s life-changing surprises for Finn and his associates hints that this series will continue its exciting track.

Last Snow
Jim Winter

Troubleshooter Jack McClure returns in this follow up to last year’s First Daughter. In Last Snow, McClure is with the US President in Moscow on the eve of a historic treaty with Russia. But when an American senator is killed in Italy (when he was supposedly in the Ukraine), the President sends McClure to Kiev to investigate. McClure’s job is complicated by the presence of Annika Dementieva, a renegade Federal Security Service (FSB) agent and Alli Carson, the President’s daughter, whom he must keep safe. Time and again, McClure’s three-dimensional approach to problem solving, which ia also linked to his dyslexia, gets them out of trouble. At the same time, McClure uncovers a conspiracy to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and involving some in the President’s own inner circle.

Last Snow is one of several recent novels featuring the grandiose theme of a renewed Cold War with Russia. However, the presence of Alli Carson, the titular First Daughter of the previous novel, humanizes the story. Alli is still reeling from the kidnapping and torture she endured in the first installment. Her rather bizarre presence on McClure’s mission gives her an opportunity to face her fears and claim her own identity. That alone raises Last Snow above the current le Carré knockoffs.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:22:47

Troubleshooter Jack McClure returns in this follow up to last year’s First Daughter. In Last Snow, McClure is with the US President in Moscow on the eve of a historic treaty with Russia. But when an American senator is killed in Italy (when he was supposedly in the Ukraine), the President sends McClure to Kiev to investigate. McClure’s job is complicated by the presence of Annika Dementieva, a renegade Federal Security Service (FSB) agent and Alli Carson, the President’s daughter, whom he must keep safe. Time and again, McClure’s three-dimensional approach to problem solving, which ia also linked to his dyslexia, gets them out of trouble. At the same time, McClure uncovers a conspiracy to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and involving some in the President’s own inner circle.

Last Snow is one of several recent novels featuring the grandiose theme of a renewed Cold War with Russia. However, the presence of Alli Carson, the titular First Daughter of the previous novel, humanizes the story. Alli is still reeling from the kidnapping and torture she endured in the first installment. Her rather bizarre presence on McClure’s mission gives her an opportunity to face her fears and claim her own identity. That alone raises Last Snow above the current le Carré knockoffs.

Death by the Book
Kevin Burton Smith

Some guys have all the luck. Like Jack Susko, the bookselling protagonist and amateur sleuth in Australian writer Bartulin’s 2008 entertaining and nicely paced debut (recently published Stateside with a new title). I sell books for a living too, but I can assure you that no rich sexpots like Annabelle Kaspowricz ever seem to throw their voluptuous bodies (“on the curvy side of womanhood”) or any of their other spectacular assets at me the way they do with Jack.

Then again, the complications that ensue when Annabelle’s wealthy, but singularly unpleasant, businessman father hires Jack, the proud proprietor of Susko’s Books, a struggling basement shop in Sydney, to track down every copy he can of an obscure poet’s books, might not be worth it. Even at $50 a pop. Those complications include sleazy business rivals, a disgraced gynecologist, possibly corrupt or at least inept cops, a vengeful crime lord, hired muscle, plenty of dubious poetry and enough dirty family secrets, obsessions and greed to fill a soap opera.

In fact, Annabelle’s family is so chronically dysfunctional that they make The Big Sleep’s Sternwoods look like television’s Waltons. And unfortunately, by the time Jack realizes what he’s involved in, it’s far too late to crawl out gracefully. Still, he draws upon just enough unexpected resources of strength and courage (not to mention a bit of wild luck) and a definite way with wisecracks (for example a thug is dismissed as having the “muscle-to-brain ratio of a brontosaurus”) to keep the reader flipping pages. A sly parody of 30s-era hardboiled fiction or the contemporary real deal? Either way, this stuff is just way too good (and too fun) to be a one-off. Down these mean streets a used book dealer must go, anyone?

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:28:59

Some guys have all the luck. Like Jack Susko, the bookselling protagonist and amateur sleuth in Australian writer Bartulin’s 2008 entertaining and nicely paced debut (recently published Stateside with a new title). I sell books for a living too, but I can assure you that no rich sexpots like Annabelle Kaspowricz ever seem to throw their voluptuous bodies (“on the curvy side of womanhood”) or any of their other spectacular assets at me the way they do with Jack.

Then again, the complications that ensue when Annabelle’s wealthy, but singularly unpleasant, businessman father hires Jack, the proud proprietor of Susko’s Books, a struggling basement shop in Sydney, to track down every copy he can of an obscure poet’s books, might not be worth it. Even at $50 a pop. Those complications include sleazy business rivals, a disgraced gynecologist, possibly corrupt or at least inept cops, a vengeful crime lord, hired muscle, plenty of dubious poetry and enough dirty family secrets, obsessions and greed to fill a soap opera.

In fact, Annabelle’s family is so chronically dysfunctional that they make The Big Sleep’s Sternwoods look like television’s Waltons. And unfortunately, by the time Jack realizes what he’s involved in, it’s far too late to crawl out gracefully. Still, he draws upon just enough unexpected resources of strength and courage (not to mention a bit of wild luck) and a definite way with wisecracks (for example a thug is dismissed as having the “muscle-to-brain ratio of a brontosaurus”) to keep the reader flipping pages. A sly parody of 30s-era hardboiled fiction or the contemporary real deal? Either way, this stuff is just way too good (and too fun) to be a one-off. Down these mean streets a used book dealer must go, anyone?

Paganini’s Ghost
Mary Helen Becker

The sequel to Adam’s excellent novel The Rainaldi Quartet (2006), Paganini’s Ghost, is an equally splendid music mystery featuring violinmaker Gianni Castiglione and his younger friend Antonio Guastafeste, cellist and police detective. Set primarily in Cremona and Milan, with brief excursions to Paris and London, the story opens with a young Russian virtuoso who won the Premio Paganini competition in Genoa and whose prize includes a recital in Cremona where he gets to play Paganini’s violin il Cannone (the Cannon). The violin is brought to Castiglione for repair before the performance, and he and the Russian, Yevgeny Ivanov, become friends. The day after the big performance though, a somewhat shady French antiques dealer is found murdered and Castiglione and Guastafeste discover a gold box that had been made to hold a small, jeweled violin given to Paganini by Napoleon’s sister.

An extremely complex mystery follows, with the disappearance of the Russian violinist, more deaths, a lost piece of music, and a fascinating study of the life and loves of Paganini. Castiglione’s encyclopedic knowledge of violins and music history help Guastafeste solve the crimes. Adam has a remarkable ability to create characters that come alive on the page. The Italian settings are superb. Music lovers and mystery fans have a marvelous treat in store.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:38:36

The sequel to Adam’s excellent novel The Rainaldi Quartet (2006), Paganini’s Ghost, is an equally splendid music mystery featuring violinmaker Gianni Castiglione and his younger friend Antonio Guastafeste, cellist and police detective. Set primarily in Cremona and Milan, with brief excursions to Paris and London, the story opens with a young Russian virtuoso who won the Premio Paganini competition in Genoa and whose prize includes a recital in Cremona where he gets to play Paganini’s violin il Cannone (the Cannon). The violin is brought to Castiglione for repair before the performance, and he and the Russian, Yevgeny Ivanov, become friends. The day after the big performance though, a somewhat shady French antiques dealer is found murdered and Castiglione and Guastafeste discover a gold box that had been made to hold a small, jeweled violin given to Paganini by Napoleon’s sister.

An extremely complex mystery follows, with the disappearance of the Russian violinist, more deaths, a lost piece of music, and a fascinating study of the life and loves of Paganini. Castiglione’s encyclopedic knowledge of violins and music history help Guastafeste solve the crimes. Adam has a remarkable ability to create characters that come alive on the page. The Italian settings are superb. Music lovers and mystery fans have a marvelous treat in store.

The Wolf at the Door
Jim Winter

Jack Higgins kicks it old school, as in bringing back the Cold War and the troubles in Northern Ireland for the 21st century. In The Wolf at the Door, Higgins’ usual cast of characters, General Ferguson, agent Harry Miller and his ex-IRA partner Sean Dillon, and American agent Blake Johnson, find themselves the targets of several assassination attempts. The group digs deep to find a sleeper cell of the Provisional IRA they suspect may be behind the attacks, but the real cuplrit may be even more dangerous and powerful than they imagined.

Higgins comes from a school of writers who think nothing of making huge historical events and real political figures characters in their fiction, and his cast of heroes has been entertaining readers for 17 novels now. But it is this novel’s “wolf,” Yorkshire-born PIRA veteran Daniel Holley, and his role as the vengeful hunter unleashed on the “the Prime Minister’s private army” that is the heart of this story. By the end, Holley has determined there’s little difference between those who recruited him to kill and the British against whom he’s avenging his fallen comrades. In the end, the reader is forced to agree.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:42:59

Jack Higgins kicks it old school, as in bringing back the Cold War and the troubles in Northern Ireland for the 21st century. In The Wolf at the Door, Higgins’ usual cast of characters, General Ferguson, agent Harry Miller and his ex-IRA partner Sean Dillon, and American agent Blake Johnson, find themselves the targets of several assassination attempts. The group digs deep to find a sleeper cell of the Provisional IRA they suspect may be behind the attacks, but the real cuplrit may be even more dangerous and powerful than they imagined.

Higgins comes from a school of writers who think nothing of making huge historical events and real political figures characters in their fiction, and his cast of heroes has been entertaining readers for 17 novels now. But it is this novel’s “wolf,” Yorkshire-born PIRA veteran Daniel Holley, and his role as the vengeful hunter unleashed on the “the Prime Minister’s private army” that is the heart of this story. By the end, Holley has determined there’s little difference between those who recruited him to kill and the British against whom he’s avenging his fallen comrades. In the end, the reader is forced to agree.

Eye of the Raven
Charles L. P. Silet

In Eye of the Raven Eliot Pattison reprises the characters and French and Indian War from his previous Edgar-winning historical mystery Bone Rattler. This time Duncan McCallum and his Native American mentor and Shaman, Conawago are investigating a series of murders. It seems several land surveyors charged with preparing the way for a huge land grant held by a consortium of well-connected Virginians have been killed. The legality of the grants that encompass much of the land in the Ohio valley are suspect, having been obtained by questionable methods. There are others interested in the lands beyond Penn’s colony too, and, of course, the local Native American inhabitants are concerned and confused about the seizure of their ancestral hunting grounds.

All of this takes place amidst the North American phase of a European war raging around the world. The French and Indian War was particularly bloody as it involved the European powers employing Native American allies, many of them traditional enemies. Both Duncan and Conawago are the last survivors of their clans and find themselves caught in the middle of conflicts beyond their control and facing constant danger from all sides. Pattison’s novels are part history, part Native American primer, part complex whodunit, part James Fennimore Cooper. These novels are exciting as the central characters are swept up into colonial politics and a savage guerilla war.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:46:39

In Eye of the Raven Eliot Pattison reprises the characters and French and Indian War from his previous Edgar-winning historical mystery Bone Rattler. This time Duncan McCallum and his Native American mentor and Shaman, Conawago are investigating a series of murders. It seems several land surveyors charged with preparing the way for a huge land grant held by a consortium of well-connected Virginians have been killed. The legality of the grants that encompass much of the land in the Ohio valley are suspect, having been obtained by questionable methods. There are others interested in the lands beyond Penn’s colony too, and, of course, the local Native American inhabitants are concerned and confused about the seizure of their ancestral hunting grounds.

All of this takes place amidst the North American phase of a European war raging around the world. The French and Indian War was particularly bloody as it involved the European powers employing Native American allies, many of them traditional enemies. Both Duncan and Conawago are the last survivors of their clans and find themselves caught in the middle of conflicts beyond their control and facing constant danger from all sides. Pattison’s novels are part history, part Native American primer, part complex whodunit, part James Fennimore Cooper. These novels are exciting as the central characters are swept up into colonial politics and a savage guerilla war.

The Lock Artist
Hank Wagner

Whether you know him as “The Miracle Boy,” “The Milford Mute,” “The Young Ghost,” or “The Boxman,” the fact remains that Michael, the narrator of Steve Hamilton’s latest novel, is a memorable character with a flair for storytelling, carefully doling out bits of his colorful life a piece at a time. From the youthful tragedy that rendered him mute to his early experiences as a budding artist and juvenile delinquent, and his dangerous and sometimes lethal exploits as a safecracker, Michael has led a truly storied existence. The fact that the myriad memorable moments he relates add up to a cohesive and wildly entertaining whole is merely an added bonus.

Taking a break from his Edgar Award-winning Alex McKnight series, Hamilton delivers what can only be described as a masterpiece, a book guaranteed to engage thriller lovers from its first sentence (“You may remember me.”) to its last (which I won’t cite, because it would take too long to explain.) It’s hard to describe, except that you might find yourself thinking of Charles Dickens channeling Donald E. Westlake’s hardboiled alter ego Richard Stark. Even more improbably, the novel is also a romance of sorts and possibly even an entry in the popular “child-in-jeopardy” mirco genre. No matter how you ultimately characterize this tale in your own mind, it’s well worth your time and attention.

Teri Duerr
2010-03-28 16:52:17

Whether you know him as “The Miracle Boy,” “The Milford Mute,” “The Young Ghost,” or “The Boxman,” the fact remains that Michael, the narrator of Steve Hamilton’s latest novel, is a memorable character with a flair for storytelling, carefully doling out bits of his colorful life a piece at a time. From the youthful tragedy that rendered him mute to his early experiences as a budding artist and juvenile delinquent, and his dangerous and sometimes lethal exploits as a safecracker, Michael has led a truly storied existence. The fact that the myriad memorable moments he relates add up to a cohesive and wildly entertaining whole is merely an added bonus.

Taking a break from his Edgar Award-winning Alex McKnight series, Hamilton delivers what can only be described as a masterpiece, a book guaranteed to engage thriller lovers from its first sentence (“You may remember me.”) to its last (which I won’t cite, because it would take too long to explain.) It’s hard to describe, except that you might find yourself thinking of Charles Dickens channeling Donald E. Westlake’s hardboiled alter ego Richard Stark. Even more improbably, the novel is also a romance of sorts and possibly even an entry in the popular “child-in-jeopardy” mirco genre. No matter how you ultimately characterize this tale in your own mind, it’s well worth your time and attention.