A Short Time to Die
In A Short Time To Die, Marly Shaw witnesses the death of her mother’s boyfriend and his father after they were attempting to kill her in central New York. She keeps silent, but the rest of the family always suspects something. Thirteen years later, two more members of the family are found dead in a ravine in California. Two detectives have to discover the connection and what they were doing so far from home.
The back cover of this book is not very accurate at all. The main character, Marly, does not run for the rest of her life. She finishes high school and leaves for college and then moves to California with everyone in the family knowing exactly where she is. The detectives in this book are frightened of everything, freaking out when someone ransacks their room or follows them in their car. There was not a single character in this book who was likable. Overall, this was not a book I will read again.
The Vermeer Conspiracy
Sabrina is a young Latina from Chicago who has beaten the odds at every turn to make a success of herself. Now shes at Yale on a scholarship and nearing graduation. Yale hasnt been a cakewalk either. Her freshman year she was raped by a professor, which she has kept secret from everyone, even her roommate, Danielle. The two couldnt have been more differentSabrina, dark, a little heavy, and an astronomy major who loves math, and Danielle, a willowy blonde majoring in art history with a special interest in Johannes Vermeer. Still, they become fast friends. But Danielles mentor, Prof. Verhaast, the foremost expert on Vermeer, was the very man who had raped Sabrina. When Danielle suddenly disappears, Sabrina keeps a few things of Danielles from police so she can solve the mystery herself. What she discovers is that Danielle has been trying to prove Vermeer was not the actual artist of his famous pieces. Its dangerous information. There have been other mysterious disappearances, all seemingly connected to Danielles Vermeer theory which, if proven, would be ruinous to Verhaast. But there is morea strange group that seems to have a hold over Verhaast and a convent with strange secrets. Can Sabrina really figure all of this out and perhaps even save Danielle?
Author Eytan Halaban has written a real thriller of a mystery with some wonderful art history thrown in to make a most interesting read. The writing is crisp and the pacing fast, characters are well-rounded and credible, the premise fascinating and completely believable, especially in the deft hands of Halaban. Its clear hes done good research, and yet he shows great imagination as well. The ending, however, is a bit weak and doesnt quite match the level of writing the rest of the book exhibits.
On vacation in Germany, a middle-aged husband and wife hike to a medieval tower. Knowing the tower makes the husband uncomfortable, the wife sends him down the trail and enters the tower alone, waving to him from an upstairs wooden landing. Later, the husband returns, but cannot find his wife. Entering the dark tower, he becomes ill, blacks out, and awakens outside. Still unclear what has happened to his wife, the man returns to his hotel, cleans up a few details without speaking to the authorities, and begins his return trip home to the States as if nothing has happened. Some time later, the womans body is discovered in the tower without identification, and a local, small-town detectives caseload becomes a good deal more complex.
Did the husband kill his wife? Was she killed by an old boyfriend? Did she commit suicide, or did she simply have the bad luck of falling?
Clearly, Katya is a labor of love for husband-and-wife writing team Jon Martell and Jamie McCormick, and the result is a pleasure for those who love a good mystery. The strength of this novel, which spans two continents and several decades, is the depth of thought given to each main characters possible, but no way predictable, back story and the care taken in revealing those stories in the plot. Intrigued from the first few pages, the reader feels the delicious compulsion to keep reading to finally discover how all of these lives interweave to create this unique novel. In the end, the authors tantalize the reader further. Rather than providing clear answers, they leave the reader puzzling. A tribute to their skill, this lack of complete clarity proves a completely refreshing and satisfying result. Katya was four years in the making, and those were four years well spent.
The Wallenstein Testament
Edmund Amesbury, the main character of The Wallenstein Testament, is quirky. It is difficult to determine if this is entirely due to memory loss he suffered as a result of a traumatic event when he was sixteen. Perhaps he always spoke in a vernacular more suited to a previous century, using Latin quotes that no one understands. He is interesting, to say the least.
Readers are taken on a journey with many twists and surprises as Edmund and a small group of accomplices set out to prove that he is the last descendant to Frances royal family. His primary source of help is Christy Shannon, an up-and-coming journalist who is writing an article about Edmunds cousin, Lester, who disappeared in San Francisco following some questionable business deals. Christy is spunky and energetic. She and Edmund could not be more different, yet each of them contributes vitally in the pursuit of Lester and the search for the Wallenstein Testament. Christy is able to ferret out information from sources unavailable to Edmund. On the other hand, Edmund has a few tricks up his sleeve that use the information to its greatest advantage.
Vibrant descriptions of characters and settings make it easier to overlook some less plausible scenarios, like a physician who gladly gives up HIPAA-protected information. The story moves forward at a fast pace, so much so that readers may not recognize some valuable clues that are peppered throughout. These details cleverly raise questions about the Wallenstein Testament and Lesters role in having Edmund confined to a mental institution for many years.
The Wallenstein Testament would make for great vacation or travel reading. It is entertaining, without requiring a large investment of time or energy by readers. Will there be a third installment to the Amesbury story that will advance Edmunds rightful place and explain how he arrives there? There are still some loose ends that could be tied up with a third installment and I think readers would be pleased to follow Edmund into the next stage of his life.
In the Shadow of Lies
Oliver Wright a homicide detective returns home to Richmond, California, upon his fathers insistence to try and keep his brother Peter out of trouble. Peter Wright is an Assistant District Attorney and insists on investigating the case of two children whom have died in a fire in the woods near their home, sparked by the burning of a cross, most likely the work of the Ku Klux Klan though hard to prove, because no one is willing to speak up, and anyone who tries doesnt seem to live long enough to actually do so.
Life in Richmond during the 1940s is difficult for just about everyone. There isnt a soul in town who isnt experiencing loss, fear, or heartache of some kind. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, anyone of Japanese descent is labeled an enemy of the state, rounded up, and sent to internment camps. The Italians are still on the wrong side of the war, and, thus, they are deemed suspicious and deprived of their fishing boats, homes, and livelihoods. Although African-American men are allowed to enlist in the army, they are treated as second-class citizens, forced to cook and clean after the white recruits, even when they are willing to fight and die for their country. To make matters worse, a serial rapist is on the loose, striking fear among the colored women of Richmond, while shipyard workers are also being beaten to death, with little more than relative apathy as a response from the police force.
Oliver is caught in the midst of all this chaos trying to appease his father, attempting to keep his brother safe, and searching for the truth in a town overcome with fear, yet he is unable to put his mind at ease until he can solve these seemingly unrelated cases plaguing his hometown even after he reenlists in the Army and returns to solve a new crime.
M.A. Adler weaves this taunting mystery through a series of intriguing clues, tragic deaths, awful crimes, and troubled characters. And, although these unusual crimes draw the reader in, begging for a connection and resolution against a backdrop of darkness, hatred, and bigotry, there is a lightness and all-encompassing feeling of hopefulness and camaraderie among the downtrodden folks of Richmond. Whether it is Olivers determination to find the truth, Mrs. Forgiones welcoming nature at Café Avellino, or Roans love for his dog Emma and Peters children, every character is forged out of difficult experiences, unfathomable loss, intricate family relationships, and an ardent desire for a better future and the end of the war. In the Shadow of Lies proves to be a skillfully written mystery taking place during a very distressing period in American history, yet confirms that hope and kindness can triumph over intolerance in the darkest of times.
War and love, while opposites, are two things that can bring even the strongest to their knees. Roach introduces us first to Griffin Scoarse. Living in New York City that is a sad shell of what it had once been since the beginning of the war, Griffin robotically moves through his days at the weapons factory and his nights in a drug filled haze with reminders of his deceased mothers words haunting him with the dreams she had for him. A chance meeting with a mysterious girl named Becks on the way home from work one day, followed by losing his job, sends him into a downward spiral of drugs and despair. Not knowing which way is up or whether to bother, Becks proves to be the push he needs to get back out there and make a difference leading him to find a job in the barrack housing for soldiers fighting an endless and devastating war.
Next, we meet Alex Nessler who is so desperate to escape society she commits murder to go to prison with the hopes of hiding. When that does not pan out as the best escape she is given the opportunity to get out of prison by joining the military to fight for America. She chooses this option although it has limited training and an even slimmer chance of survival. During her stint in jail and then as she prepares to fight we learn that Alex is the one who got away for Griffin, and vice versa. Seemingly headed for a chance meeting at the barracks, the question is will Griffin and Alex be reunited and if they are will there be anywhere for them to escape the devastation of war to find their happy ending?
Roach tells the story of love and war through the eyes and lives of many characters throughout the book. From Griffin and Alex, Griffin and Becks, soldiers in Alexs team, love, war and desperation for survival is seen through each characters eyes and interactions. Author, Alisa Perederey, tells a haunting story of a world that is ravaged by war, leaving readers sifting through characters for the good left in humanity and what happens when the world really appears to be over. Vivid details and complex characters that you both root for and loathe keep you turning the page. Roach is a novel that will keep you hooked until the end wanting more, but not sure of what.