Brush Back

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The latest novel by Sara Paretsky does not disappoint its reader. V.I.Warshawski is back to investigate an old murder and prove the convicted killer, a tough elderly woman from the old neighborhood, was falsely accused of beating her daughter to death twenty-five years ago. V.I. is investigating as a favor to a once friend of hers, Frank Guzzo,who asks her to clear his mother’s name. But it gets nasty when Frank’s mom, a.k.a. Stella Guzzo, starts publicly accusing V.I.’s revered cousin, Boom-Boom, a famous hockey player now deceased, as the murderer. The novel weighs in at a hefty 459 pages, but is worth the read for fans of Paretsky.

Devil’s Bridge

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This latest mystery by Linda Fairstein centers on the kidnapping of her main protagonist, assistant DA Alex Cooper, and the efforts of her boyfriend, Detective Mike Chapman to locate her before it’s too late. The department thinks it’s an attempt at revenge by one of the felons that she has put behind bars, and the case moves accordingly. Fingers are also being pointed at  Antonio Estevez, whom Alex is prosecuting for sex trafficking, or Reverend Hal, an unscrupulous pastor known for inappropriate sexual advances toward underage parishioners and paying off politicians to look the other way. A cryptic text by Alex leads Chapman’s investigative efforts to several NY landmarks: Lady Liberty and the George Washington Bridge. Fairstein weaves some interesting facts about the two famous landmarks into her narrative, as Chapman’s hunt for Alex intensifies. It’s a great read for mystery lovers.

Memory Man

index.aspxMemory Man by Baldacci is his latest suspense novel, a rather hefty one at 403 pages, but the characters pull the reader in right at the start. Amos Decker arrives home one evening from his detective shift to find his wife, nine year old daughter and brother-in law dead, murdered in cold blood. A year and a half later, having lost his job as a detective as a result of this horrific event, he has managed to pull himself together and now works as a private investigator. His family’s killer has never been caught, and no possible suspects were ever found. Until one day when he is paid a visit by his former partner with the news that the killer has confessed, and all bets are off. At the same time, there is a mass shooting at the local high school, and he is enlisted to help profile the shooter. Amos has an unusual memory, due to a massive hit years prior while playing pro football and subsequent brain trauma. As a result, he has both hyperthymesia and synthesia, which means he can never forget anything, similar to having a video recorder in one’s head. Synesthetes can count in colors, see time as pictures, and sometimes associate color with people or objects. Amos’s unusual journey to find his family’s murderer and the shooter at the high school will demand every ounce of strength he possesses. Set a good chunk of time aside for this read, it is well worth it.

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

5th gospelCo-writer of The Rule of Four, Caldwell pens an intriguing mystery surrounding two brothers and the Shroud of Turin, the cloth believed to have covered Christ’s body in the tomb. The novel is set in 2004, and begins on the property of the Vatican. Father Alexander Andreou, an Eastern Catholic priest with a young son, receives an urgent phone call one evening from his brother Simon, a Roman Catholic priest, who begs Alex to “pick him up before the police do…”  When he arrives at Castel Gandolfo, Alex finds Simon standing over the dead body of their mutual friend,Ugo Nogara, who was working on an exhibit for the Vatican Museum, whose focus was the Shroud. The mystery of Ugo’s death is just one piece of the puzzle, which widens to include the Crusades, Pope John Paul II’s dying wish, the Orthodox Church and the four Gospels of the New Testament.

The Fifth Gospel is fast-paced, and provides a fictional look inside Vatican politics for the curious reader.

Murder in Clichy by Cara Black

amy ledThis is an older novel in the Aimee Leduc investigation series, #5, and was published in 2005. Aimee is a Parisian computer security expert, who finds herself embroiled in murder investigations as she tries to simultaneously run her security firm. Her partner in the firm, Rene is a dwarf but well schooled in martial arts. This mystery involves a number of stolen Vietnamese jade zodiac figurines, shortly after Amy takes possession of them, intending to give to a third party. the jade pieces are sought by many, and Aimee’s partner Rene is kidnapped in an effort to force her to find the valuable figurines.

Black uses vivid descriptions as Aimee runs around Paris, which is enjoyable to read if you have already visited the city. The list of characters involved in quite long, and sometimes difficult to keep track of. But the novel flows well, and keeps you in suspense until the end.