Shanks on Crimeby Robert Lopresti is a collection of short stories about Leopold Longshanks and his wife Cora. Longshanks is a mystery writer and an unlikely detective. who, with his wife, Cora, in the background gets into some unusual situations. Shanks, Longshanks’ nickname, then unravels the crime or misdemeanor, all the while protesting that he’s a writer, not a detective. The stories are interesting enough, such as when Shanks sets out to catch the person who mugged him and pays for the miscreant to go to vocational college rather than be convicted and sent to jail. But all the stories follow the same general pattern and pacing, which makes the collection seem rather dull. Overall, a nice set of stories, just not fast-paced.
Several of these stories first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine between 2003 and 2014.
Searching for El Dorado in the Amazon jungle, Alex Cort and Andrew Seaton need all the help they can get in A Shadow Away by Joan K. Lacey. Cort, a private art theft investigator, and Seaton, a British archaeologist, search for the fabled city of gold based on an old map, a gem and a golden idol that’s gone missing. As Cort and Seaton slog through the jungle assisted by a local guide, they’re aided by Angel, a mysterious being from an alternate universe. Angel’s heightened senses and skills, some would say magic, keep the searchers a step ahead of Benjamin Guelf, an unscrupulous rival collector.
Although Angel uses her powers to get the group out of danger on occasion, she seems withdrawn and not really part of the group. The reader learns nothing about her antecedents or world. On more than one occasion, Angel implies that Cort and Seaton can attain some or most of her powers. When Cort asks her, she just proclaims that he’s not ready to know such things. Often, as Cort and the others traverse the jungle, Angel seems to walk along in another world, like a slippery wraith.
A Shadow Away might be compared to the Indiana Jones universe. Lacy’s novel involves an archaeologist seeking a religious relic in an intimidating environment while evading unscrupulous competitors. In addition, similarities exist between Lacy’s Alex Cort series and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. Again, both involve archaeologists searching for artifacts and dealing with danger. But Lacy introduces a subtle dose of magic realism in the search for El Dorado, thus expanding the trope.
Overall, A Shadow Away is an engaging read that kept me interested. I would have preferred to learn a good deal more about Angel even if the information was kept away from Seaton and Cort. She refers to herself as a “witch” and is evasive when Cort asks about her world. She says he’s not ready to know even after Cort begins accepting her abilities, which seems condescending. At times, she seems insubstantial, like a hologram, even when she and Cort become attracted to each other.
Cort and Seaton with their group of indigenous guides hack and slog their way through the jungle undergrowth. Yet, on a few occasions, Guelf and Raul Facón, his nasty sidekick, just step out from behind a tree to confront them looking unscathed and fresh as if Guelf and Facón could just teleport into the area. At one point, the Amazon River, which is full of life-threatening creatures, sweeps Guelf away. Yet, in the final stages of the story, he appears well and hearty.
Still, I recommend A Shadow Away for those who like stories full of adventure, mystery and magical realism. I give this first Alex Cort novel 3.75 out of 5 stars; a solid read. I look forward to the next installment in the series.
Author Pam Anders leads readers on a merry chase through the USA’s Pacific Northwest in The Dagger, her debut novel in the Kat Delaney series. From the forests of Idaho through Walla Walla, WA, towards Portland, OR, Kat’s grit and perseverance defeat a madman and a cult of incestuous monsters.
The Good Life
Kathryn (Kat) Delaney has a good life. A 24-year-old teacher who enjoys her work, Kat lives with her father in Portland, OR. Although Kat enjoys the nice house and nice cars, she wonders about her father, but has stopped asking. For all her life, Kat’s father refused to answer any questions about himself, his income or background. Or the identity of Kat’s mother. Her father just stonewalls her. She also ponders the need for an elaborate alarm system that is monitored from a secret room built by her father.
Lots of Questions
Consequently, Kat knows nothing when her father, Sean Delaney, is found dead in the woods while on one of his periodic “hunting trips.” Where had her father gotten the several thousand dollars in his possession? Can she convince Detective Leo Burton that she and her father were not drug dealers or part of a spate of recent bank robberies? Who was the mysterious woman at her father’s funeral? Why did the Circle of God cult kidnap Kat and insist on calling her Ursula? Why did the cult leaders insist that Kat hand over a ceremonial dagger? Would Kat’s ex-boyfriend, Doug Stamper, and his father, Marty, be able to help her after she escapes from the cult?
Overall, The Dagger is a very good, suspenseful read. Plenty of fast-paced action engaged me and kept me turning pages. Anders’ writing was terse and spot on. I look forward to more character development of Kat, Doug and Marty as the series progresses.
The Dagger would be a good holiday or birthday gift for the mystery lover in your life.
Cruise the Mediterranean, looking out at the warm blue waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Visit the Palace of Knossos on Crete with no other tourists around. Stroll on the Promenade in Corfu. Eat well on a mega yacht owned by a Greek mogul. All in the name of catching a cagey art collector who is not always on the up-and-up when selling paintings from his collection.
Along for the ride on this floating dreamboat, Alix London is the eyes and ears of the FBI until she gets help from Ted Ellesworth, her FBI contact, who comes aboard as an investor later in the cruise. The second installment of the Alix London series, A Cruise to Die For finds London knocked unconscious on the floor of the yacht’s music room and, later, in the middle of a standoff between the police and art thieves in Albania.
A low-slung Lamborghini cruises along a curvy, narrow road through scenic New Mexico mountains. Will Alix London and Christine LeMay survive when a tailgating pickup truck and a tractor trailer barreling down the wrong side of the road try to force them through the guardrail and down a cliff? Charlotte and Aaron Elkins wrote A Dangerous Talent as the first installment of the Alix London series. Previously, Charlotte wrote five romance novels pseudonymously as Emily Spenser. Aaron’s 16-novel mystery series featuring Gideon Oliver and three-novel series about Chris Norgren are familiar to mystery lovers.
Who kidnaps Kate, wife of wealthy Harry Exeter, and demands a king’s ransom? The money paid, Kate’s release still goes awry. in Dark Tide Rising, Inspector William Monk stands amid a conundrum. He and Harry Exeter followed the kidnappers’ instructions to the letter. Who knew and betrayed them? Mistrust oozes up from the Thames like the famous London fog. How can Inspector Monk untangle the web of betrayal and distrust surrounding his chosen team of River Police? Continue reading →
Title: Edinburgh Dusk | Author: Carole Lawrence | Publisher: Thomas & Mercer | Publication: 2018 | Genre: Mystery
Edinburgh Dusk is the second installment in a mystery series by Carole Lawrence. Set in 1880, Ian Hamilton, a Shakespeare-quoting Detective Inspector, and his associate, Sergeant Dickerson, are drawn into a poisoning case when Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake reports the death of the first victim, the husband of a client who gets help at her clinic for poor women. More victims follow, including a banker visiting Margaret, a prostitute at Fair Kate’s. The investigation leads Hamilton and Dickerson through brothels, pawn shops and back alleys in the Old Town section of Edinburgh. Continue reading →
The Quartet Murders: A Yorkshire Murder Mystery | By: J. R .Ellis | Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK / Thomas & Mercer | Copyright: 2018 | ISBN: 9781053903098 | Genre: Mystery
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Oldroyd is thoroughly enjoying a concert of chamber music in a chapel in a small Yorkshire town when one on the quartet members is shot while performing onstage by an unseen assailant and the musician’s irreplaceable Stradivarius violin goes missing. No one is seen leaving the building, yet the murderer and thief aren’t found. Is this the work of a gang of art thieves with whom some of the locals are involved? A few of the local well-heeled gentry are known for their private collections of rare and priceless musical instruments. Before long another member of the quartet is killed, and his murder linked to the stolen violin. DCI Oldroyd assists his old friend, DCI Sam Armitage of the local Halifax police force, in unraveling the knotted strings of these mysteries. The police assume the two deaths and the theft of the violin are committed by the same group of criminals. But are they connected or are they separate cases?
Polis Books, LLC | Published 2018 | ISBN 978-947993-05-1 & 978-947993-33-4 | Format: trade paperback and e-book | Genre: Mystery
Charlie Doherty, private investigator, “crooked” ex-NYPD detective, ex-Marine, thinks he has it easy. Since his “retirement” from the police force, he has been investigating cases for wealthy clients and being paid handsomely. Cases are funneled to him by the mysterious Harriman Van Dorn—easy cases such as tracking down wayward offspring or tailing spouses in divorce cases. Easy, that is, until he takes on the case of a society matron wanting to know why her husband was murdered. Although the police had ruled Walter Fairfax’s death an open-and-shut case of suicide, his wife thinks otherwise, “Walter was incapable of suicide. Not that he wasn’t a coward, mind you, for Walter Fairfax was most certainly a cowardly man. He simply wasn’t considerate enough to kill himself.” He was too busy making sure his insurance company remained a successful venture even throughout the Depression, during which time this story takes place. Mrs. Fairfax is adamant that someone drove her husband to his death, “The lives and fortunes of insurance men are based on calculations and charts and payment schedules that were created on the off chance that something terrible might happen to a policy holder one day. Do you know that they even have charts that can determine how long a policy holder will live based on certain factors? What’s even more troubling is how accurate the charts are…And that is why, Mr. Doherty, I know my husband did not take his own life.”