A Sporting Murder
Chester D. Campbell
Night Shadows Press
8987 E. Tanque Verdi #309-135, Tucson, AZ 85749-9399
9780984604401 $14.95 www.NightShadowsPress.com
In his fifth fictional appearance, Greg McKenzie, a former cop who had worked for 25 years as a special agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, has been hired to look into the proposed arrival in Nashville of an NBA team, and to check out the rumor that something shady was going on among the NBA franchise seekers. As the city already has both professional football and ice hockey teams, it seems like a bit of overkill to further dilute the sports fan base to a point where none of the three could be truly viable.
Combining a terrific mystery with professional sports-what could be better?
Greg and Jill, his "bride of nearly forty years," who together comprise McKenzie Investigations, receive a call from Arnold Wechsel, a young German who is the nephew of Greg's old OSI colleague, asking for a meeting, telling him only that he has information about the NBA matter that will "blow the mind." When Greg arrives at the designated meeting place, he finds the young man's dead body. Greg is determined, on both a personal and professional level, to track down the killer. In the process, they survive a couple of serious attempts on their lives. And there is also the presence of a ubiquitous [and somewhat menacing] black Escalade to add to the mystery. As Greg says, "the professional sports franchise business [is] getting deadly."
This reader by now feels an affinity for this husband-and-wife team, and cannot also help but feel a knowledge of and affection for their creator and his wife, who seem to be the models for the protags. A thoroughly satisfying holiday read [it is the week before Christmas as the book opens], and recommended.
Thrilled to Death
By L. J. Sellers
9055G Thamesmeade R., Laurel, MD 20723
9781590807279 $13.99 301-490-2507 echelonpress.com
Homicide Detective Wade Jackson, of the Eugene, Oregon Police Department, returns in the newest entry in the series by L. J. Sellers, following her terrific "Secrets to Die For" and "The Sex Club," and this one is every bit as exciting and suspenseful as were those earlier books.
Wade's girlfriend, Kera Kollmorgan, enlists his help when Danette Blake, her 20-year-old not-quite daughter-in-law, fails to return to pick up her three-month old grandson Micah, following her appointment with a psychiatrist. [Danette and Nathan, Kera's son, had never married before he was shipped out and later died in the war.] His search for Danette proves frustrating and fruitless. But when another young woman who apparently has nothing in common with Danette also disappears on the same day, the investigation widens. The women appear to live in completely different worlds: Danette lives in public housing, and the second woman to go missing, though superficially similar in appearance to Danette, is an heiress with no connection to Danette that the police can find. The only lead takes them to the home of an agoraphobic man who hasn't left his house in a year.
A cop for over twenty years, Wade is dealing with issues in his personal life as well, primarily health issues-he's had abdominal pain for months, along with what could be cardiac symptoms-as well as his relationship with his daughter, Katie, and her reluctant acceptance of her father's new romantic interest when she still hasn't given up on her parents' getting back together now that his ex-wife is sober. [He has full custody of Katie, her time with her mother being at Wade's discretion.]
Fast-paced, well-plotted and with terrific writing, the book is recommended. [It should be noted that the author has two books due out in 2011, the fourth book in the Jackson series, as well as a standalone.]
225 Duncan Mill Rd., Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B3K9
9780778327639 $7.99 US/$9.99 www.MIRABooks.com 416-445-5860
This newest entry in the Taylor Jackson series could be termed a procedural with a twist. It includes elements of the occult: Goth, Wicca, Satanic and Pagan rituals and beliefs. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that in general, "woo woo" is not my favorite genre. This novel, however, does not ask readers to believe in the occult, merely to accept that there are those that do. And on that basis, I had no problem with it at all. More to the point, I found it equally as enjoyable as the earlier books in this series, of which this is the fifth.
All events transpire over a four-day period, beginning, significantly, on October 31st [usually known as Halloween or, if one follows the occult, Samhain, which is the Wiccan New Year.] As the book opens, Taylor Jackson has just been reinstated as a Lieutenant in the Nashville Metro Police Department, heading up the Murder Squad. The squad assembles hurriedly when there are reports of multiple victims and multiple crime scenes, at least seven dead in five different houses, all victims between fourteen and eighteen years of age. The persons responsible seem to be the eponymous, if self-styled, Immortals. Is this, as it starts to appear, a case of vampires and witches running amok in Nashville, Tennessee?
Paralleling this investigation in the novel is one that revolves around events which began in June of 2004 with the discovery of the fifth victim of what the media dubs The Clockwork Killer, which involved Dr. John Baldwin, Supervisory Special Agent and Taylor's fiance, and which he must revisit when a hearing into the matter is being held at FBI headquarters at Quantico. In each case, the present and the past, there is an inherent threat of further loss of young lives, both aspects of the book equally suspenseful. [I couldn't help but note that Dr. Baldwin displays good taste in writers, reading a copy of a John Connolly book in one scene.] The occult aspect becomes just another part of the background and not a deterrent to this reader's enjoyment of the book. As is pointed out to Taylor, "Everyone needs something to believe in. Pagans just look to things that are a bit more tangible than what you and I are aware of." The Immortals, as were the other books in the series, is recommended.
Driven to Ink
Karen E. Olson
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451231574 $6.99 800-847-5515 penguin.com
Karen E. Olson, the author of the Annie Seymour Mysteries, here brings back for her third appearance Brett Kavanaugh, owner of her own tattoo shop, The Painted Lady, in Las Vegas. As the book...