Mystery Reviews, June 1, 2012

So many choices, so little money. If you can help it, don’t let the budget crunch at the end of the fiscal year keep you from investing in the future. Consider setting up your own Discovery display of new authors. We can help ensure their hard work is rewarded with a readership.

If conspiracy stories resonate with your readers, there are riveting possibilities here, both historical and current. For sheer intrigue, you’d be hard-pressed to find a period more steeped in it than the Tudor era, so dip into Elizabeth Adair’s The Sun and Stars for a castle spy delight. For those suspecting agribusiness of big plots against the world’s food supply, may I recommend Jeanne Matthews’s Bonereapers? And for political whack jobs, you absolutely have to meet some of the characters in Kirk Russell’s San Francisco‚ based Counterfeit Road.

The specter of Vietnam hangs over many a crime novel, no doubt because of the authors’ personal histories. Consider the moral quandaries that Russell Hill poses in his latest noir, Deadly Negatives. Stephanie Jaye Evans brings the war home to Texas in Faithful Unto Death. And some of Kirk Russell’s characters in Counterfeit Road have never stopped fighting at all.

Finally, don’t mess with old people. Gerald Elias’s blind amateur sleuth, Daniel Jacobus, uses his extra-sharp other senses to bring a conductor to his knees in Death and Transfiguration. Almost-senior sleuths Ada and Lil defend their older friends’ interests in Charles Atkins’s Vultures at Twilight. Barry Fantoni has come up with an 87-year-old sleuth for the Miami crowd; check out Harry Lipkin, Private Eye. The titular character in Colin Cotterill’s newest Jimm Juree series entry, Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach, might be retired from the police force, but he is not slowing down. And Susan Oleksiw’s loyal protagonist, Anita Ray, won’t rest until she figures out who’s swindling her great-aunt in The Wrath of Shiva.

Not unlike the seed vault in Jeanne Matthews’s mystery, libraries collect rare and wonderful finds. But, of course, we want to disseminate our new items, not squirrel them away. So, happy lending‚ and share some new reads this month!


This year, Bloody Words, Canada’s oldest and largest mystery gathering, meets in Toronto June 1‚ 3 ( Getting into the Malice Domestic mood, the group is now honoring what it calls the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. Nominees are:

Janet Bolin, Dire Threads: A Threadville Mystery (Berkley Prime Crime) Alan Bradley,

A Red Herring Without Mustard (Doubleday Canada)

Gloria Ferris,Cheat the Hangman (Imajin Bks.) Mary Jane Maffini,

The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder: A Charlotte Adams Mystery (Berkley Prime Crime) Phyllis Smallman,

Champagne for Buzzards: A Sherry Travis Mystery (McArthur & Co.)

Also meeting in Toronto, the Crime Writers of Canada announced the Arthur Ellis Award winners on May 31. Click here for the shortlist.

Just around the corner: ThrillerFest will be back in New York City, running July 11‚ 14. Visit the website for a look at the group’s award nominees. And are you subscribing to ITW’s monthly webzine, The Big Thrill?

starred review starElias, Gerald. Death and Transfiguration: A Daniel Jacobus Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780312678357. $26.99. M

Reclusive, blind violin instructor Daniel Jacobus becomes curious about a prestigious symphony’s internal strife when comments against the talented but maniacal conductor, Vaclav Herza, reach a divisive level. Sherry O’Brien, the acting concertmaster, has come to Daniel for advice because she fears that Herza’s harassment of her means he won’t appoint her to a deserved permanent position. But Daniel basically blows her off. A few days later, Sherry is in the hospital with slashed wrists, close to death. Daniel comes to his senses and mobilizes his team of friends‚ Nathaniel, Max, and Martin‚ to dig into Herza’s past. Working round the clock in Prague, Tokyo, and New York, each man unearths dark secrets that clearly demonstrate Herza has killed before. Daniel knows this conductor must be brought to justice. VERDICT Elegantly structured to match the Richard Strauss piece from which the title comes, Elias’s fourth title (after Death and the Maiden) in his highly regarded series deserves a standing ovation. Think Donna Leon for pacing and thoughtfulness and Deborah Grabien for music’s integral role in the plot.

starred review star Oleksiw, Susan. The Wrath of Shiva: An Anita Ray Mystery. Five Star: Gale Cengage. Jun. 2012. c.308p. ISBN 9781432825911. $25.95. M

It’s high tourist season, and Anita, photographer and young woman of the world (she’s East Indian American), is helping her aunt Meena run a thriving resort in south India. The family eagerly awaits the arrival of Surya, Anita’s jet-setting cousin. But when she doesn’t turn up, Surya’s grandmother, Muttacchi, fears something awful has befallen the young woman. Soon Anita finds herself wondering about the condition of Muttacchi’s estate. Places that should remain sacred appear defiled, valuable items are missing, and the servants are behaving suspiciously. When a servant is brutally assaulted, Anita steps up her sleuthing efforts with her aunt’s collusion. Anand, Anita’s almost-boyfriend, conveniently has tech skills that make Anita’s mission a bit easier. VERDICT Traditional beliefs, cultural expectations, and old-fashioned detecting make for a captivating cozy not to be missed. Beguiling Anita Ray winningly returns after her first entry, Under the Eye of Kali. Readers who like Colin Cotterill or Alexander McCall Smith will enjoy this title. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/12.]

starred review star Bolton, S.J. Dead Scared. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9780312600532. $25.95. M

Bolton’s second novel featuring London police officer Lacey Flint is as suspenseful a psychological thriller as Now You See Me. Working again with Mark Joesbury, Flint goes undercover as a student in Cambridge when a higher-than-usual suicide rate is reported, and authorities begin to suspect that someone is pushing vulnerable students to take their own lives. However, Flint doesn’t realize that her own past makes her the perfect victim, and she finds herself alone and vulnerable among strangers. When terrifying nightmares disturb her sleep and strange encounters occur in her waking hours, Flint begins to question her hold on her sanity. VERDICT Although Now You See Me is tough to beat, Bolton comes close with this sequel. Readers will be caught up in the twists and turns that leave them hanging until the final paragraph. [Library marketing.]‚ Lisa Hanson O’Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Lib., Winnipeg

The following titles are reviewed in the June 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Lewis, Jonathan. Into Darkness. Arrow: Random House UK. Jul. 2012. c.252p. ISBN 9781848092587. pap. $14.95. M


Adair, Elizabeth. The Sun and Stars. BearCat. Jun. 2012. c.196p.ISBN 9781937356163. $23; pap. ISBN 9781937356170. $11.95. M

Atkins, Charles. Vultures at Twilight. Severn House. Jun. 2012. c.220p. ISBN 9780727881410. $28.95. M

Campion, Alexander. Killer Critique: A Capucine Culinary Mystery. Kensington. Jul. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780758268792. $23. M

Cotterill, Colin. Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach: A Jimm Juree Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jun. 2012. c.324p. ISBN 9780312564544. $24.99. M

Fantoni, Barry. Harry Lipkin, Private Eye. Doubleday. Jul. 2012. c.208p. ISBN 9780385536103. $24. M

Hill, Russell. Deadly Negatives. Caravel: Pleasure Boat Studio. 2012. c.176p. ISBN 9781929355846. pap. $16. M

Matthews, Jeanne. Bonereapers: A Dinah Pelerin Mystery. Poisoned Pen. Jun. 2012. c.232p. ISBN 9781590586181. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781590586204.$14.95. M

starred review star Russell, Kirk. Counterfeit Road: A Ben Raveneau Mystery. Severn House. Jun. 2012. c.248p. ISBN 9780727881458. $28.95. M


Carlson, Alyse. The Azalea Assault: A Garden Society Mystery. Berkley Prime Crime. Jun. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780425251300. pap. $7.99. M

South, Sheri Cobb. Babes in Tinseltown: A Mystery of Hollywood’s Golden Age. CreateSpace. Jun. 2012. c.236p.
ISBN 9781470093747. pap. $12.95. M


Cain, James M. The Cocktail Waitress. Hard Case Crime: Titan. Sept. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9781781160329. $23.99. M

Castro, Joy. Hell or High Water. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781250004574. $25.99. M

Kallentoft, Mons. Midwinter Blood: A Thriller. Atria: S. & S. Jun. 2012. c.464p. tr. from Swedish by Neil Smith. ISBN 9781451642476. $25.99. M

Rosenfelt, David. Leader of the Pack: An Andy Carpenter Mystery. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2012. c.384p. ISBN 9780312648046. $24.99. M