A review of Every Hidden Fear: A Skeet Bannion Mystery by Linda Rodriguez.
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Gone Missing: A Thriller by Linda Castillo (Minotaur Books, $14.99, 297 pages)
“What kind of monster does that to a fifteen-year-old girl?” I whisper.
Shocking, that’s the best way to describe the opening chapters of this, the fourth book in an Amish Country series written by Linda Castillo. The narrator is Kate Burkholder, the chief of police of a town called Painters Mill. She also happens to be a former member of an Amish community. Burkholder is troubled and damaged by past problems, yet she seeks to assist others. Her town is located in the Ohio farmlands and the time of year when the mystery takes place is spring. Rumspringa is in full swing; although, this version is significantly tamer than the TV shows about Breaking Amish.
State Agent John Tomasetti with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation teams up with Chief Kate Burkholder when an Amish girl who is out walking along a country road goes missing while doing an errand for her family. A pool of blood and a satchel for carrying vegetables are all that they find by the side of the road. Although the scene is outside her jurisdiction, Burkholder is called in as a consultant because of her Amish roots.
Author Castillo enriches her tale with in depth descriptions and background information related to the Amish folks who farm in Ohio. The stark contrast between these people living their simple bucolic lifestyle and the festering evil that exists in their midst makes for a gruesome and engaging thriller. Castillo is adept at building tension that may compel some readers to stay up late to finish the book as did this reviewer.
Every Broken Trust: A Mystery by Linda Rodriguez (Minotaur Books, $25.99, 304 pages)
The chief of police in the next book is Skeet Bannion, a half-Cherokee woman, whose jurisdiction is the campus of Chouteau University which is located outside Kansas City, Missouri. There’s more to the job than just keeping a safe campus. Chief Bannion must participate in local politics and university affairs.
The story begins in a chatty bouncy manner as the chief expresses her dislike for hosting a welcoming party for the university’s new dean of the law school, as the growing guest list threatens to overwhelm her. It’s obvious that socializing with politicians and smarmy co-workers who have disillusioned her is bringing out the worst of her temper.
Once the stage is set and the character relationships are established, the story settles down. Of course the party includes drinking and at least one guest has one or two drinks too many. What follows is a post-party-murder after the drunk blurts out a scathing revelation that upsets the entire party. The body is found on university property which makes it Bannion’s task to catch the killer.
To complicate matters, Bannion is the guardian of a fifteen-year-old boy named Brian who is developing a friendship with the daughter of one of the smarmy politicos. Bannion is an evolving character and Rodriguez places her in situations that demand maturity and caring beyond the level Bannion has for her job.
Author Rodriguez is a Latina writer who brings a significant depth of understanding of the ways women and especially women of color are treated. The book is the second in her series featuring Skeet Bannion.
Liars Anonymous: A Novel by Louise Ure (Minotaur Books, $14.99, 275 pages)
He made sure there was no grime from the blast, then leaned back against the cab of my truck. “That’s the funny thing about the justice system. It makes no distinction between not guilty and innocent. I do.”
Shamus Award winner Louise Ure crafts an unusual mystery tale that is more suspense thriller than mystery. Her narrator, Jessica Damage, is a woman with a troubled past. Jessica works at a call center in Phoenix, Arizona for a service called “Hands On” that might as well be GM’s OnStar. An incoming call from a 2007 Cadillac Seville connects to her line. Jessica can’t help calling back after the call terminates abruptly even though the rules of her job make it technically illegal to eavesdrop when the call is reconnected.
Trouble finds Jessica daily as she searches for the answers to the questions sparked by the sounds she heard on the covert call. As Tucson is her hometown and two years earlier she was acquitted of a murder charge, her sleuthing actions take place all over the greater Tucson area.
Ms. Ure proves herself a true native by accurately telling the reader where Jessica is going and what she sees around town. This reviewer is quite familiar with Tucson and the descriptions were good enough to create a cinematic effect during the read. The characters’ deep feelings and crisp dialogue make Liars Annonymous a good read.
“Louise Ure is an exciting new voice in the mystery field.” Laura Lippman
Review copies were received from the publisher.
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Every Last Secret: A Mystery by Linda Rodriguez (Minotaur Books, $24.99, 289 pages)
Poet Linda Rodriguez, who is part Cherokee and lives in Kansas City, Missouri, brings more than a bit of herself to her first mystery novel. In many ways, it seems as though she is living a fantasy life through the story. The main character is Marquitta Bannion, a female cop in America’s heartland – K.C., Mo. Skeet, as she’s known by her peers, has worked her way up the ranks of the Kansas City Police Department at the cost of her marriage to a fellow officer. To make matters worse, her dad’s tarnished reputation as a cop has shaken her faith in him. She’s half Cherokee which makes her internal struggle even more challenging as she integrates what matters most into her maturing persona. The Native American values Skeet learned from family are sometimes at odds with her work life. With so much tension and disappointment haunting her, Skeet decides to move on in life.
The action takes place at a nearby small town college where Skeet has taken a job as the chief of the campus police. Her hope for a career move away from the turmoil of big city crime fighting is shattered when the student editor of the school newspaper is found murdered. As is to be expected, the tale centers on solving the crime. What is not expected is the knitting our heroine uses as a way of calming and soothing her frazzled nerves. The author is an avid knitter and her knitting references are authentic. It makes for a charming twist to the standard mystery genre.
The underlying themes of an intergenerational struggle and life shifts sets the stage for Skeet to arrive at realizations about her priorities. The action moves smoothly and keeps the reader’s interest. Clearly, Ms. Rodriguez has set up the beginning of an engaging series of novels with a great ending – and the potential for a direct sequel. Stay tuned!
“Murder on a college campus, plenty of bad people, and all kinds of puzzles to solve. Linda Rodriguez has written a highly enjoyable procedural introducing a rough and tender heroine, Skeet Bannion.” Kathleen George, author of The Odds and Hideout.
Every Last Secret was released on April 24, 2012, and is available as a Nook Book and Kindle Edition download.
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Tagged as A Mystery, April book releases, avid knitter, best new authors, Cherokee Indian, college police force, crime novel, debut novel, female protagonist, fiction, hardbound release, Hideout, Joseph's Reviews, Kansas City, Kathleen George, Kindle Edition, knitting, Linda Rodriguez, Minotaru Books, Missouri, murder, Nook Book, Poet Linda Rodriguez, police procedural, recommended books, Ruta Arellano, Skeet Bannion, The Odds