Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Cop-TownCOP TOWN 

Karin Slaughter

Delacorte Press, 2014, 416 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0345547491KarinSlaughter

 

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

 

 

Kate Murphy is a young widow from a well-to-do family.   Her husband was killed in the service and Kate has made the decision to join the Atlanta Police Force.  Her first day on the job leaves her wondering if she has made an error in judgment and needs to rethink her decision.

 

Nothing is easy on the first day.   The legs on her uniform are too long; her cap is too big and falls down in her face and her shoes fall off with every step.  It seems the Atlanta PD could care less  if the uniform fits the female officers.  The male officers enjoy painting a penis on the women’s bathrooms and the colored women police officers have a separate dressing room divided by a curtain.

 

The Atlanta PD is full of racism and very few new officers, particularly women, meet the criteria necessary to gain respect.   Kate is partnered with Maggie Lawson.  Maggie has a brother and an uncle on the force, neither of which treat Maggie with much respect.  Maggie tries to give Kate a few tips as far as work is concerned but neither woman feel their partnership will be a success.

 

Immediately the pair are thrown into the investigation of the death of another police officer.  Maggie’s brother, Jimmy Lawson, was partnered with the officer killed and managed to carry him all the way to the hospital even though he was also hurt.

 

It is suspected that a criminal called “The Shooter” is the one killing the officers.  Each time a cop is killed the situation seems to have been set up in the same way.  Maggie and Kate hook up with a black police officer, Gail Patterson,  who agrees to help them locate a pimp that Maggie feels has some information they can use.   The three get the information but more trouble than they signed up for.

 

Cop Town is an exciting book that is difficult to put down.  I’ve read all of Karin Slaughter’s novels and she has long been one of my favorite authors.   This novel is a standalone but I am hoping that I might be reading more about Maggie and Kate in the future.

The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

the secret speechThe Secret Speech

Tom Rob Smith

Grand Central Publishing

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

 

The year is 1956.  Leo Demidov is heading up the homicide department in Moscow.   Leo is trying to make a good life for his wife Raisa and the two girls that the couple has adopted.  Elena is the youngest and is happy with Leo and Raisa.  Zoya is older and has bitter memories of the death of her biological family.  Zoya holds Leo responsible for the death of her parents and her hatred goes deeper than Leo and Raisa realize.

 

Stalin’s rule is over.   Khruschchev is the new leader.  A secret manifesto has been printed and is referred to as The Secret Speech.  Teachers are commanded to read the document aloud in classrooms across the Soviet Union. Former officials are in fear of their lives since many of their actions under Stalin’s rule are now public knowledge.

 

A woman from Leo’s past is now the leader of a vory (a group of bandits) in Moscow. The woman is known as Fraera although that is not really her name.  Fraera is determined to make Leo suffer for his past actions.  Her revenge includes everyone in Leo’s family and extends to his friends.  Leo travels undercover to a Siberian gulag and eventually winds up in Hungary during the uprising in Budapest.  Leo is determined to keep his family safe and is willing to undergo any hardship to accomplish his goal.  Fraera is just as determined to destroy the family.

 

The Secret Speech is a book that is not easy to read and not easy to forget.  It is not necessary to read Child 44 first but I am glad I did.  I am also glad that I have not had to undergo the hardships and cruelty that existed in Russia during these times.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

child44Child 44

Tom Rob Smith

Grand Central PublishingTomRobSmith

Reviewed by:  Patricia E. Reid

 

Child 44 begins in January of 1933 and sets forth the plight of the people in Russia who were starving to death.  When one has never really gone hungry it is just very difficult to imagine what a person would go through to feed themselves and their families.

 

The book jumps forward to 1953 where we meet Leo Demidov and learn about his work in the MGB, the State Security Force, both the perks and the downside

 

The story is about a serial killer who stalks and kills young children in a very violent manner.  Sometime goes by before anyone realizes that there really is a killer at large.  The victims are usually found near railroad tracks and there have been victims in numerous towns but Russia did not have the communication between departments or even a homicide department where the information is shared from one place to another. People have been caught, accused and put to death in order to solve one of these murders because that is the goal in the Russian official’s minds is just to charge someone and close the case.

 

Not until Leo Demidov who is an agent for MGB, the State Security Force, falls out of favor with his superiors and is demoted does he realize the extent of these killings.  His efforts to find the murderer put not only his life in danger but the life of his wife and anyone who is willing to help.

 

The hunt for the serial killer is very exciting and you will find yourself holding your breath many times.  The background of life in Russia during the reign of Stalin is quite revealing and made me very, very thankful that I was born and raised in the United States.

Auditory Viewpoint by Lillian R. Melendez

Auditory_ViewpointAuditory Viewpoint

By Lillian R. Melendez

ISBN-10: 1612962114

ISBN-13: 978-1612962115Official Picture Lillian R. Melendez

Black Rose

Trade paper, 248 pgs.

$18.95

 

Lillian Melendez’s Auditory Viewpoint is a one-of-a kind mystery for me. I’ve not read any other books that has a blind woman working to solve a mystery. Melendez does it very well, except for one point–her main character seems to lose sight of the goal of solving who is trying to kill her sister! Actually, it seemed to make her much more realistic… Can you imagine being blind and having others feel that you could not take care of yourself? Gloria Rank had proven it to herself and was living alone and apparently doing quite well. She was the older sister of Anna, who seemed to be one of those individuals. So much so that when Anna finds herself in trouble and Gloria wants to help, it created somewhat of an argumentative situation… Sounds pretty realistic, doesn’t it. Except that Gloria had reached “that point” where she knew she had to show her sister and others just how well she could handle even a dangerous situation.

I enjoyed it myself, but others may see her as a domineering woman, which she is not. Gloria knows that there are other senses that humans all have, that we do not use as fully, just because we can see! She was determined to take the time to teach her sister how to better protect herself, even while Anna came across in a condescending manner. A very interesting and brave approach by Melendez because that sometimes makes her two main female characters come across negatively. I’m assuming that my thoughts are correct and I’m applauding the author for taking on this challenge to make it more realistic…If I’m wrong, then probably Gloria’s interpersonal skills need to be worked on if she appears in another novel…LOL

Gloria Rank was co-host for a talk radio program, “The Scope Morning Show” along with John Myers and had earlier met Benjamin Taylor, an information security analyst, who had provided his expertise on a program on identity theft and cybercriminals, plus what you can do if you happen to become a victim.

She had learned enough on that program to automatically think of Ben when her sister called her, distressed, because her identity had apparently been stolen! As the investigation proceeded, the police had found tape of a woman that looked very much like Anna accessing her account. Apparently $12,000 was gone!

But what did that have to do with the dead man found at her door?!!! Police began to suspect that there was actually somebody out there wanting to hurt Anna and they suggested she leave her apartment…

Two learning aspects for readers is, first, from the IT expert on identity theft and other scams, but the more important–or at least just as important–is Gloria’s teaching Anna and also Ben about learning how to more effectively use all of your physical senses… Even smell might be important, right in your home!

Once the police realized that the sisters were doing their own investigation, they tried to make them understand how dangerous it was, but at least they tried to keep in touch as often as possible. And Ben seemed to be making the time away from his own work to go with them–so, of course, he began to take the lessons that Gloria was adamant they learn. Now, admittedly, there were a lot of conversations that were overheard, but overkill might just convince those of you who still believe that there is safety in numbers, like at a mall, well, soon it was apparent that was not true, especially when a little device was added to the criminals’ activities… Don’t know what that is? This might have been created to read ID numbers from boxes to maintain inventory…But what can the criminal minds’ ideas become?

There is a fascinating twist that you should be on the alert for… Two of our characters will be recipients of the activity–acting as a trigger of the same event…One is good; one is evil…or driven to revenge? Once again, a daily occurrence in American lives becomes the basis for criminal action…

This is an informative as well as taunting story that makes readers stop to consider what they can do or learn to be safer. I have only one suggestion to this professional writer…take the time to listen to how people are talking these days–it’s shorter, faster and not grammatical; e.g., very few young people will say, “What is up, brother?” Each of us will probably immediately think of multiple ways that this phrase has been reduced… There is a fine line that writers need to learn and use in today’s world. We talk in contractions, do not say entire words that would occur in formal writing. This book could have been much more exciting, more in line with other thrillers coming out, if, whenever possible, and easily understandable to readers, sentences are not filled with lots of adjectives and other shortcuts that are prevalent in today’s world…This is more important, in my opinion, in mystery, suspense, and thriller genres… Don’t go too far, but a lot of extra words really could have been taken out without hurting the basic story. I would still recommend it because of the unique concept of the story, as well as the information provided. It’s hard to claim this book is not well written, but it is different from Americanized talking… Work to find that balance, and you’ll find there will definitely be a difference in the speed of reading and the ability of readers to more quickly sink into your story…

GABixlerReviews
Book Provided for Review

The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver

skincollectorThe Skin Collector 

Jeffery Deaver

A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

Grand Central Publishing, 2014, 448 Pagesjc-jeffery-deaver-3

ISBN No. : 978-1455517138

 

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

 

 

Lincoln Rhyme, the quadriplegic criminalist and his highly trained team are faced with a killer that has studied Rhyme’s methods and has learned how to cover up evidence and leave Rhyme’s team reaching for clues. The killer has located a book about serial killers that includes a chapter written by Lincoln Rhyme on The Bone Collector. The book is where he got his knowledge of how to avoid leaving evidence.

 

The killer who has been dubbed The Skin Collector tends to work underground and tattoos messages on his victims.  However, these tattoos are not the ordinary type the tattoo gun is loaded with poison and the victim dies a horrifying death.

 

Rhyme’s team is working at top speed to locate The Skin Collector and stop the killing.  The Skin Collector is a tricky individual and really had me fooled.   I was down to the last page before I realized what the tatoo artist was really after.

 

I have enjoyed all Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme books but I think this one tops the list.   I totally enjoy reading about Rhyme’s staff and their loyalty.

 

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

CoverOfSnowCover of Snow

Jenny Milchman

Ballantine Books, 2013, 336 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0345534217Jenny_Milchman_Web

 

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

 

Nora and Brendan Hamilton live in an old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  Nora wakes up one wintry morning to find that her world has been turned upside down.  Nora’s husband Brendon is a police officer in love with his wife, his job and his hometown.  However, this wintry morning Nora discovers that her husband has committed suicide.   He has not left a note or anything to indicate why he would take his own life.

 

As Nora attempts to find out the reason for her husband’s suicide, she finds every door is closed.  No one will give her answers. Nora has never felt completely accepted by her husband’s family and friends and she has no one to turn to in her search for answers.

 

Every stone she uncovers only leads to more questions.   This intriguing book leaves the reader quickly turning pages and looking for answers.

 

This is Milchman’s debut novel and the winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award.   I hope to read many more novels by this author.

 

 

Spirit Shapes by Marilyn Meredith

Spirit-Shapes-CoverSpirit Shapes

Marilyn Meredith

ISBN: 978-1-60659-396-7

Mundania Press

Marilyn_Meredith

Author Marilyn Meredith

Paperback, Kindle, page count: 181

September, 2013, Price: $10.76, $4.99

Reviewer’s name: Patricia K. Batta

 

Ghost hunting tourists stumble on a dead body in a house reputed to be haunted. Deputy Tempe Crabtree, first on the scene, is sensitive to spirits and finds herself bombarded with them as soon as she enters the house. Spirits don’t kill people the way this young man was murdered, though, and the detective in charge assigns Tempe to find out who the very human murderer is.

Tempe’s attention is split between solving this case and resurrecting two cold cases in order to release the spirits she has encountered so they can pass on. Her superior detective, not understanding the plight of the trapped spirits, refuses to help with the cold cases since all those involved are long dead. Tempe forges ahead on both fronts, helped by her husband, Hutch, a local pastor. Hutch reluctantly accepts that Tempe can communicate with the spirit world, but he worries and fears for her physical and spiritual safety when she does so. They both know that, along with the spirits who need closure to pass on, there are demons who threaten both the living and the dead.

Once the murder victim is identified, Tempe is stonewalled by both staff and students at the high school he attended. Not only were the students he had been running around with lying to her, they were openly taunting her. And a young woman claiming to know something clammed up every time Tempe was close to finding out what it was.

While trying to figure that out, Tempe is also drawn to several small graves in back of the haunted house, the vision of a young girl in a corner of the house, and stories about the murder of a woman in the house many years ago. On top of it all, rumors of satanic activity seem to be increasing.

The author has an understanding of the Native American culture, the festering wounds, and the still-active discrimination. The book is matter-of-fact about these issues, acknowledging them but not allowing them to take over the story. She is remarkably even-handed in dealing with the spirit world issues from both the Native American and the Christian perspectives.

The ending was satisfyingly bone-chilling even for me, a person who doesn’t usually read paranormal stories.

Catnapped by Elaine Viets

catnappedCatnapped!

Elaine Viets

ISBN: 978-0-451-46630-3

Publisher: Obsidian Hardcover

Page count: 288 pages

Release date: May, 2014Viets and Mystery

Price: $24.95

Reviewer’s name: Patricia K. Batta

 

 

A kidnapped cat and two murders – it’s a good thing Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont are great at multi-tasking. Nancie, a hard driving attorney, hired the husband and wife Coronado Investigations team to clear Trish of murdering her soon to be ex-husband Mort and find out who kidnapped their show cat Justine. As part of the investigation into Justine’s disappearance, Helen takes a dead-end job working with Mort’s new fiancé for a woman who shows prizewinning Persians. Elaine Viets weaves the vagaries of cat shows seamlessly into the thread of the story.

Their investigation is barely underway, however, before their landlady and friend Margery’s estranged ex-husband, who she hasn’t seen in thirty years, shows up and tries to worm his way back into her life, then dies. The police conclude that Margery poisoned him, so Helen and Phil convince Nancie to add Margery to the caseload.

Helen and Phil are under the gun to get these two old ladies out of jail before they also shrivel up and die. And, as Nancie keeps reminding them, they have to find Justine or Trish will fall apart anyway. They follow up on every clue, too many of which turn out to be dead ends. Eventually, one by one, the pieces come together, giving the reader a chance to solve the cases along with Helen and Phil.

The characters in Catnapped are fun and quirky, with distinctive personalities. I liked the interplay between Helen and Phil, and I was pleased that the male of the pair was the one who pulled a silly stunt to try and rescue the cat.

Viets has written a well-crafted, fast paced mystery full of delightful characters and satisfying plot twists.

Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson

WatchingTheDarkWatching the Dark 

An Inspector Banks Novel

Peter Robinson

William Morrow, 2014, 384 Pages

ISBN No. 978-0062283979

Reviewed by Patricia Reid

 

 

Lorraine Jensen, a patient at the St. Peter’s Police Treatment Center, is in the habit of getting up around dawn when her pain is keeping her awake to sit outside before the other members of the Center are up.   As the light grew stronger, Lorraine thought she could see something like a bundle of clothes at the far side of the lake.  Since Barry, the head groundsman and estate manager was in the habit of keeping the artificial lake and natural woodlands tidy, it was unusual to see anything that looked out of place.  Although the grass was still wet with dew, Lorraine walked to where she had spotted the bundle of clothes.  She did not get all the way to the spot when she realized that it was a dead body she was looking at and not a bundle of clothes.

 

DCI Alan Banks was immediately dispatched to St. Peter’s as soon as the authorities had been notified.  Banks had visited Annie Cabbot there during her recent convalescence.  Now Annie was due back to work on Monday and Banks was looking forward to working with her again.  When Banks and the Dr. in attendance turned over the body, they found that the victim had been shot with a crossbow bolt.  Lorraine recognized the corpse as DI Bill Quinn.  Banks stated that he knew Quinn too but only in passing.

 

When Quinn’s room is searched, some photographs were found that placed Quinn in a compromising position.  Quinn’s wife was deceased but the photographs looked as though they had been taken some time ago.  Inspector Joanna Passero, of the Police Standards Division, is assigned to work with Banks to determine if Quinn has somehow done something that would reflect badly on himself as well as the department.

 

Banks feels hindered by Inspector Passero but has no choice in the matter.    As he digs deeper into the case he keeps going back to a six-year-old missing person case that Quinn investigated and Banks is beginning to feel that there are crooked police officers involved in the old case as well as the current case of Quinn’s murder.

 

This is a fast moving story that keeps the reader guessing.

Death by Misadventure by E.E. Smith

Death-by-Misadventure-v9bDeath by Misadventure

E. E. Smith

Phoenix International, Inc., 2013, 197 PagesE.E. Smith.picture-1 (1)

ASIN: B00GQEYWVW

 

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

 

 

Alexis J. Smith has opened a detective agency in a time when it is very unusual for a woman to work at that occupation.  Her office door reads “ALEXIS J. SMITH-Discreet Inquiries”.  The last person Alexis expected to find in her office when she arrived at work was a former classmate, Kate Faraday.

 

Both women attended Sacramento High School, class of 1941 but Alexis fails to recognize her old classmate Katie O’Toole.  Kate announces that she wants Alexis to find her husband Frank Faraday.  It seems Frank has left Kate and according to the post card Kate shows Alexis he has taken their baby Daisy.  The post card reads, “Daisy sends her love.”  When Alexis asks what Kate would like her to do if she did take the job and if she did find Frank, Kate announces she wants him killed.  Alexis has always had a soft place in her heart for Frank so she finally agrees to take the case and do nothing but report back to Kate if she finds Frank and Daisy.

 

After receiving a huge retainer from Kate, Alexis goes shopping, purchases an entire new wardrobe and arranges to travel to England to look for Frank.  With the help of an investigator from Scotland Yard, Alexis manages to find the Old Vicarage where Frank is staying.    The Vicarage is said to be haunted and Alexis has a very exciting time dodging the ghost while trying to figure out what is going on with Frank and Kate.   Alexis is not finding a baby named Daisy.

 

This novel is a fast read with interesting characters that Alexis meets when she decides to stay at the old vicarage.