Tag Archives: A Crime Novel

Tattered Lives

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The Guise of Another: A Crime Novel by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street Books, $15.95, 269 pages)

Allen Eskens’ The Guise of Another is indicative of a man with a future writing crime novels. Having reviewed many of these books, my experience indicates that writers can slip into many traps – rely solely on plot with no legitimate character development, rely almost exclusively on dialogue to tell the story, interject stray characters randomly to promulgate reader interest… (Insert your favorite criticism here.)

In Guise, Eskens’ delivery is so natural that it is read as a story with a crime element as a backdrop, and not as a stereotypical “crime novel.” A man with a stolen identity is murdered and Detective Alexander Rupert is handed what he perceives as a chance to salvage his sinking career. Big brother Max, also a cop, is called upon to perform heroic acts in the call of duty as he attempts to save Alex from himself. The story is set primarily in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Tattered lives hang in the balance and, of course, judgment is clouded when Alex falls under the spell of Ianna, who is enmeshed in the mystery and pursued by the evil Drago Basta. Just when the reader is convinced that she can predict the outcome, another subtle twist hits the story. While the ending is not quite perfect, it certainly satisfies.

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Guise, a quite excellent read, is a follow up to The Life We Bury. Congratulations to Eskens for conceiving of it!

Highly recommended.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Dave Moyer is a public school administrator in Illinois, and is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.

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Werewolves of London

The Reckoning: A Crime Novel by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books, $15.99, 373 pages)

What we have here is an easy segue from Ms. Casey’s prior novel, The Burning, that was previously reviewed on this site, to the next episode in the adventures of Maeve Kerrigan, a Detective Constable with the London police force. Although the main character and narrator is a female cop, she works within an equal opportunity team of detectives who share the labor and victory while capturing some of the grossest lowlifes imaginable.

The Reckoning (nook book)

Crime solving in this tale goes beyond just catching criminals, rather, the action takes Maeve into an exploration of the seamy side of pedophilia and underworld crime bosses. The action is fierce and there are some harrowing situations that the reader will be eager to get past. But isn’t that why we read this genre?

I fell into my step behind him. My feet were aching, my neck hurt and I could barely think straight, but I didn’t dare opt out. “Where are we headed?” “Back to the nick. I want to brief Superintendent Godley before the close of business. You might as well come too. Someone has to read through the files on Palmer and Tremlett and it’s not going to be me.”

Author Casey creates some new characters that blend well with the ongoing ones. There are some relationships in the police precinct that are puzzling and some of the characters are abrasive while others reveal their true nature with actions that are engaging. On a lighter note, Maeve’s career and private life move to a new level. Happily, Casey once again sets the stage for another book in the series.

Well recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher. “Casey has succeeded in writing another impossible-to-put-down thriller…” Library Journal

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The Reckoning (AA)

A review of The Reckoning: A Crime Novel by Jane Casey.

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It’s A Beautiful Day

A Bad Day for Mercy: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 272 pages)

A Bad Day for Scandal: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur Books – Reprint Edition, $14.99, 304 pages)

Stella Hardesty rides again!   Author Sophie Littlefield certainly has a talent for creating fresh and amusing mystery novels.   There’s a bit of down home in her main character, Stella Hardesty.   Her would-be boyfriend, Sheriff “Goat” Jones, makes a mighty fine love interest for followers of this series.   Stella’s friends and neighbors, mostly the ladies, come to her when husbands or boyfriends need a bit of attitude adjustment.

Usually, this reviewer would not read two books back-to-back that were written by the same author.   Well, breaking rules can be a whole bunch of fun.   Scandal and Mercy are the latest in the series.   They were preceded by Sorry and Pretty.   Each book can stand on its own merits; however, there’s much to be gained by starting with the first book for readers who are new to Ms. Littlefield’s writing.

“This here’s the hospital,” Chip said, as they arrived in front of an imposing clot of buildings featuring a big square limestone main structure and any number of added-on bits in a variety of architectural styles, making the whole thing look like a LEGO set designed by a drunk and hostile modernist.”

The presenting challenge might be rescuing her sister’s stepson from creditors who are seeking repayment for gambling debts, or a snotty former classmate of Stella’s who needs assistance with disposing of a dead body.   Stella does not shrink from a formidable opponent or smelly situation.   These characters are not the ones you’ll find in a British mystery – proper and polished; however, the lessons learned as the mystery is solved are every bit as meaningful and undoubtedly more poignant.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

Review copies were provided by the publisher.

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A review of A Bad Day for Mercy: A Crime Novel by Sophie Littlefield.

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Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

The Burning: A Novel by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books, $15.99, 354 pages)

Here’s a mystery novel for fans of the TV show Law and Order: Criminal Intent.   Author Jane Casey has launched a new detective series featuring a young female British detective constable named Maeve Kerrigan.   Maeve yearns to prove herself; however, as the sole female in an investigative team assigned to identify and apprehend a serial killer, she has many obstacles to overcome.   Moreover, the team’s boss, Superintendent Godley, makes every effort to provide Maeve with opportunities that will allow her to advance in her career.   Being the favorite can create some serious challenges for getting along with the rest of the investigative team.

The serial killer has been nick-named The Burning Man because his victims are found amid the ashes of their bodies.   These victims were thoroughly beaten to a pulp before being torched.   The fifth victim is found but not exactly in the same condition as the prior four.   Yes, she has been burned, but no, her head has not been bashed in.   Maeve and her coworkers sift through the scant evidence in a race to find the killer before he strikes again.

Ms. Casey uses the tried and true technique of devoting chapters to individual characters.   She uses the first person narrative in different type fonts to draw the reader into the two main character’s minds and experiences.   Maeve and Louise – the best friend of the fifth victim,  are highly developed persons with a strong dedication to their own goals.

The mystery moves along at a steady pace and the reader’s never bored or overwhelmed by the action.   Having a story told from a variety of perspectives serves to heighten the drama and intrigue.   Ms. Casey’s conclusion is also a beginning for the next book in her series.   Let’s hope it’s as good as this, her second novel.

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   In Europe, the title is The Burning: A Crime Novel.   “Astute, complex, layered – and very twisted.”   Lee Child

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Coming Up Next…

A review of The Burning: A Novel by Jane Casey.  

“You’ll remember this one for a long time.”   Lee Child 

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