Death in Nostalgia City

By Mark S. Bacon

Category Archives: book review

Missing persons case filled with twists, turns at dawn of Pearl Harbor

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Maximum Moxie, A Maggie Sullivan mystery
M. Ruth Myers
Tuesday House   Sept. 2016
$3.99 Kindle  $11.99 trade paper
262 pages

Book reviews, particularly for suspense novels, often begin by describing all the action of the first few chapters.  I’m not going to do that here.

In the first chapter of Maximum Moxie, Ruth Myers’ fifth PI novel in the series, Loren Collingswood walks into Maggie Sullivan’s office with a problem.   He’s a founder of a technology company and one of his most brilliant employees has disappeared.  The missing engineer is the key to a new project the company is scheduled to introduce in a week. And Collingswood says he’s been getting maximum-moxiestrange phone calls.  But, he says, “It can’t have anything to do with Gil [the missing employee].  It can’t have anything to do with me.”

Whether the calls are related to the disappearance remains to be seen, but the rest of the scene in Sullivan’s office contains an unconventional surprise you’ll have to discover yourself.

Ultimately,  Sullivan gets the missing persons job.  Now, before you get the wrong idea about a technology company, remember that Sullivan started out as a private eye in 1930s Dayton, Ohio. This book is set in the first week of December 1941.  Technically, that’s one of the surprises—but by no means the only one—in the first chapter.  But never mind, it’s mentioned on the back cover, so the date is no spoiler. The impending war gives the novel an extra sense of uncertainty and realism and provides a hint that the mysterious technology project might have military applications.

Searching for the missing engineer, Sullivan, a scrappy 5-foot-2-inch, 27-year-old, has to first determine if Gil Tremain is a kidnap or murder victim, a blackmailer, thief or traitor. Is he alive or dead?  As Sullivan knows, if Tremain is in peril, the sooner she locates him the greater her chances of not finding him dead.  Continue Reading →

Feisty attorney dukes it out with the Mob

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Identity Crisis
Debbi Mack
Wild Blue Press
4th Edition Aug. 2015
Kindle $5.99  Trade paper $11.99

Attorney Sam McRae has a more than troublesome case.  Her missing client is accused of murder and implicated in a bank scandal.  Sam’s affair with a married prosecutor—who is likely not going to leave his wife—weighs on her often.  And as she tries to locate her missing client, she’s followed by a black Lincoln.  “Something about the design suggested a rolling black casket.”

Driving a beat-up Mustang convertible, Sam chases from Maryland to Pennsylvania to track down her client, shadowed by the Mob and worried that someone connected to the case is trying to steal her identity.  The engaging, fast-moving story readsidentity-crisis-debbi-mack like the PI novel that it is, even though the protagonist is an attorney.  Sam has more instinct, determination and guts than most male investigators, and she manages to stay one step ahead of the cops.

Sam meets a nosy neighbor with alcohol and garlic breath, a private eye who is either stalking her or there to save her, a woman with a scarred face and a “three-pack-a-day voice” and an upper-crust strip club owner with something to hide. Add in Mob figures made from equal parts menace and violence plus eccentric federal agents and you have an entertaining—and upsetting—cast of characters.

Finally, the story is decorated with lively language and descriptions: Continue Reading →

New mystery releases

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Front-Page-AffairA Front Page Affair (Kitty Weeks Mystery)
Radha Vatsal
Sourcebooks Landmark,  May 3, 2016
336 Pages
Kindle  $9.99  Paperback  $11.40

 

Radha Vatsal, debut author of the new mystery A Front Page Affair, grew up in Mumbai, India and came to the United States to attend boarding school when she was 16.  Growing up, she says, she loved reading mysteries.

“Agatha Christie was my introduction to the genre and Dick Francis taught me that mysteries could draw me into a world that I knew nothing about—in this case horseracing—and teach me a lot,” she says.

Her fascination with the 1910s, setting for her new mystery series, began when she studied women filmmakers and action-film heroines of silent cinema at Duke University, where she earned her Ph.D. in English.  “I chose the mid-1910s for the setting of my novel because so much was happening then—culturally and politically,” she says, “and yet it remains a relatively under-explored area in fiction.”

Settling on a heroine was a harder,” says Vatsal, “she had to be someone who could carry a series and who was able to undertake an investigation, but at the same time, she needed to be part of her milieu. She couldn’t flaunt all the rules that applied to women during the 1910s because that would take away some of the tension and the fun.  So, she became a reporter for the Ladies’ Page of a newspaper:

The Lusitania has just been sunk, and headlines about a shooting at J.P. Morgan’s mansion and the Great War are splashed across the front page of every newspaper. Capability “Kitty” Weeks would love nothing more than to report on the news of the day, but she’s stuck writing about fashion and society gossip over on the Ladies’ Page―until a man is murdered at a high society picnic on her beat.

Determined to prove her worth as a journalist, Kitty finds herself plunged into the midst of a wartime conspiracy that threatens to derail the United States’ attempt to remain neutral―and to disrupt the privileged life she has always known.

 

Roftop-Angels---JamesRooftop Angels
Tierney James
e-Book Press Publishing,  June 3, 2016
291 pages
Kindle $3.99; free June 8 only; Paperback, 13.99

 

I believe world geography connects everything around us, says Tierney James, author of the new novel, Rooftop Angels.

“I was a geo-teacher for National Geographic where we taught students five very important themes: location, place, human environmental interaction, movement and region.” Continue Reading →

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