Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BREAK NECK by Erika Spindler (St. Martin's)

Erica Spindler has again teamed homicide detectives, MC Riggio with Kitt Lundgren. In Copycat ,Copycat, Kitt was just trying to get back to work after suffering the loss of a child to Leukemia, the break-up of her marriage, and a bout with the bottle. If that weren't enough, a big case,’The Sleeping Angel’ case had eluded resolution. In that book MC wasn’t sure if she and Kitt could function as an effective team; however, they did and they solved the case and have now bonded to make one of Sal Minelli’s best homicide teams.

In this story, a young computer geek is murdered. There is evidence that the barrel of a gun was forced to the forehead of the victim--as if forcing him to reveal some information. And it looks as if after he gave up the information his neck was broken. The only item missing from his apartment is his computer! In quick order, MC’s fiancé, Dan, is murdered and so is her cousin, Tommy. Since Dan was killed while sitting in Tommy’s car, it is possible that he is collateral damage and the killer thought he was killing Tommy. Yet there are several more weird things, MC is getting nasty notes that question if she really knew much about Dan and Tommy’s computer is also missing! Spindler will keep you on the edge of your seat as we find the clues that will lead to the killer or killers.

--Steve Bank

Thursday, April 23, 2009

DEATH LOVES A MESSY DESK by Mary Jane Maffini (Berkley)

Professional organizer Charlotte Adams keeps to a meticulously well-planned schedule, but occasionally even she encounters challenging days. When a new customer asks her to help with an employee's messy desk, Charlotte foresees no problem; but, when she's run off the road on the way to the job site and the sloppy employee is missing, she soon realizes she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Normally, Charlotte's friends provide support to one another when they're having one of those days, but one is hugely pregnant, one cuts her phone calls short, another has three kids, and still another is mysteriously tied up with a volunteer project.

Maffini defines her characters beautifully—I never once had trouble identifying any of them—and her pacing is superb. Messy Desk is a quick, fun read. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

FLIPPING OUT by Marshall Karp (St. Martin's Minotaur)

DEBRIEFING (noun). A day of "hanging out" for LA detectives. "Naval debriefing" is, naturally, held on Reggie Drabyak's fishing boat. This particular debriefing session started out much like others—with sandwiches, beer, and poker. The next day's official briefing at the station, however, is much different: One of the detective's wife has been murdered. When another spouse is killed, it's not apparent whether someone is targeting cops' wives or the highly successful house-flipping business the wives operate with funding from one of their mothers (a highly successful mystery writer).

Throw in a nasty coyote business and a father who provides comic relief and you're in for a fast-paced mystery that's fun to follow. I read this between dinner and bedtime and was sorry when it ended. Add Marshall Karp to my must-read list!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Agatha Short Story Nominees

Thanks to Toni L. P. Kelner who posted the links to the short stories nominated for the Agatha Awards given at the Malice Domestic Conference! Read 'em fast, because once the conference is over, they'll be taken down from the website.

"The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron, Wolfsbane & Mistletoe (Penguin Group)

"Killing Time" by Jane Cleland, Alfred Hitchock Mystery Magazine - November 2008

"Dangerous Crossing" by Carla Coupe, Chesapeake Crimes 3 (Wildside Press)

"Skull and Cross-Examinations" by Toni L.P. Kelner, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - February 2008

"A Nice Old Guy" by Nancy Pickard, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - August 2008