Lucy Graham is a twenty-two-year-old children’s governess in the home of a respected Essex surgeon. She seems to have no past, having arrived penniless from London with a single glowing recommendation from an obscure school mistress. Local widower Sir Micheal Audley, the wealthiest man in the county, smitten by her beauty and charm, makes her an offer she can’t refuse. “The truth is that Lady Audley had, in becoming the wife of Sir Micheal, made one of those apparently advantageous matches which are apt to draw upon a woman the envy and hatred of her sex.
Elmore Leonard’s Glitz opens with Miami Beach detective Vincent Mora getting shot by a dopesick junkie in his way home from the grocery store. The bullet goes all the way through Mora, just missing his hip. After surgery and a brief hospital stay, the main character seems to disappear from the story. We next find ourselves, inexplicably it seems, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, following an American tourist and the cabbie who has become his full-time chauffeur.
Sunburn opens with a thrirty-something man, Adam Bosk, observing a thirty-something woman, Polly Costello, in a roadside restaurant in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. She’s come from the beach, forty or so minutes to the east, and her sunburnt shoulders are starting to peel. Her observer wonders if he should make a move, introduce himself, strike up a conversation. She wonders too, as he takes a seat two stools down at the bar.
The plot was good enough, but this one fell short on several levels, reading like a journeyman’s immitation of a John D. MacDonald novel. I didn’t like the strained smart-guy dialog, the wisecracks that fell flat or the banter between main character Lemuel Gunn and his girl Friday, aka Ornella Neppi. Much of the humor and wit just wasn’t that funny, though it might appeal to an older generation. Neither Gunn nor Neppi came off as fully-formed characters worth caring about until the very end.
A Travesty is the first of two short novels in Donald Westlake’s Double Feature. The story opens with New York film critic Carey Thorpe looking down at the body of the girlfriend he’s just accidentally killed in her own apartment. A series of thoughts run through his mind, most of them converging on self-preservation: how can he get out of this mess without being fingered as the killer? Well, no one saw him walk in.
Perry Mason makes his first appearance in The Case of the Velvet Claws. The book begins with a Mrs. Eva Griffin approaching Mason for a favor. She’d been out on a date the night before with a man who wasn’t her husband. The police showed up to investigate a robbery at the hotel where said date occurred, and they took statements from witnesses. Eva Griffin’s date was a powerful local politician, powerful enough to get the police to exclude his name from the witness list.
Kill Romeo is now available on Amazon.com. “What begins as a puzzling murder,” writes Diane Donovan of the Midwest Book Review, “turns into something unexpectedly even more complex on many levels… The story provides a riveting blend of personal and investigative conundrums that keep Freddy and his readers on their toes.” The book has picked up good advance reviews on NetGalley : “This was a really enjoyable read that was fast paced, well written and had a cast of well developed characters that I liked.
Fabian Nicieza’s Suburban Dicks opens with the murder of a gas station attendant in West Windsor, New Jersey. As a pair of inept young cops are trying to secure the crime scene, a minivan pulls into the station. The pregnant driver’s toddler has to pee, and she does… all over the evidence. The driver of the minivan, Andrea Stern, a once-promising criminal profiler whose career was cut short by motherhood, picks up more details in her brief survey of the scene than the cops can gather in weeks.
Hammett’s books are dense with action and full of twists. Snooze for a second and you’ll have to go back and re-read the whole chapter. While many have commented about Hammett’s hardboiled style and seedy underworld characters, what really struck me in this one was how the author keeps the reader grasping throughout. You never know what’s going to happen next, nor do you know the significance of events as they’re happening.
The second book in the Freddy Ferguson series, Kill Romeo, goes on sale July 2, 2022. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon . Advance review copies are available on NetGalley . This is a sequel to Gate 76 , which was named a 2018 best book of the year by both Kirkus Reviews and BestThrillers.com. Summary Not since he saw a woman hurry off of a jetliner shortly before it exploded in mid-air (Gate 76) has detective and former boxer Freddy Ferguson faced such a deadly puzzle as when he comes across the body of a well-dressed young woman, nameless and unidentifiable, deep in the woods of rural Virginia.
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