The East Bay Mystery Readers Group - 6 May 2003 Meeting Recap

A TERRIBLE BEAUTY (Horror) - Graham Masterton - Good "On a farm in southern Ireland, the dismembered bones of eleven women are found in a common grave, buried eight decades ago. Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire is used to bloodshed, but this ivory litter of human remains is unimaginable butchery."

This would seem to be the author's attempt to move from horror to mystery and, if you can skim the one particularly graphic chapter, it's pretty good. It mixes horror, mystery and Celtic mythology. There were some clues which seemed obvious to us but were missed by the characters but the classic elements were there. Overall, it did keep us reading.

THE WHITE CROW - (Historical) - CYNTHIA PEALE - Very Good "The newest Beacon Hill Victorian mystery takes Caroline Ames into the suspect world of spiritualists. Her brother Addington disapproves, so she attends a séance with their boarder, Dr. McKenzie. Unfortunately for them, another attendee drops dead after receiving a message from "beyond."

This is the 2nd books we've read by this author and the 3rd book of the series. The writer has definitely improved. We found it very entertaining, the pace consistent with the he period, the characters well-drawn. It conveys the period very well and, for those of us who love Boston, a fun visit to a city where some things don't change. This was Libby's and my favorite of the three books.

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER (Amateur Sleuth - non-cozy) - Julia Spencer-Fleming - Very Good "This first novel introduces an unusual investigative partnership and a probable new series. Russ Van Alstyne, police chief of Millers Kill, and Clare Fergusson, new-to-town Episcopal priest, first meet when she reports a baby abandoned at the church. The two later discover the body of the baby's young mother. As the investigation progresses, Clare runs into opposition from staid church members, two of whom will do anything to adopt the child."

This was Blaire's and Charlotte's favorite of the three books. We all liked the setting and the characters, did not find the end obvious and thought it was very entertaining. Libby and I did feel there was a bit of the TSTL element to Clare and found it a bit unlikely the police chief would let her be quite as involved as she was, but we still enjoyed it.

Books for June 3rd are:

THE EYRE AFFAIR (Fant, Lib. Fiction, Sci-Fi) - Jasper Fforde "Unusual, indeed; is Fforde's debut, set in 1985 in an alternate London, literature is (refreshingly) so important that you can get punished for forging Byronic verses. Then someone starts kidnapping literary characters Jane Eyre's disappearance is particularly traumatic and Special Operative Thursday Next must stop this before it's too late."

MURDER IN HELL'S KITCHEN (Police Fiction) - Lee Harris "After twenty years of loyal service, Detective Jane Bauer is just two months and one case away from leaving the NYPD for a cushy desk job. Her last assignment: working for a special unit that tackles unsolved crimes. At a crossroads in her personal life, Jane relishes the chance to lose herself in a challenging investigation. Four years ago, Arlen Quill was found dead in the entryway to his apartment building—leaving no clues, no witnesses, and no leads. When Jane decides to interview Quill’s old neighbors, she makes a startling discovery: Every single occupant at the time of the murder subsequently disappeared. Like any seasoned New Yorker, Jane knows that mere homicide isn’t enough to drive people from their rent-controlled apartments. In Hell’s Kitchen, where a cold case suddenly heats up—Jane soon finds herself face-to-face with a killer. . . . "

SCAVENGER REEF (Det. Fiction) - Laurence Shames "Key West artist Augie Silver's paintings are worth a fortune, if he is dead, but he may be still alive and ready to paint again; and there are those who want to make sure that he is dead."

Books for July 1st are:

ORCHESTRATED DEATH (British Pol. Proced) - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles "This British author's first mystery introduces Detective Inspector Bill Slider, taken advantage of at work and pummeled verbally at home by his incompatible spouse. His own dissatisfaction leads Slider to become immersed in solving the murder of a beautiful young violin player. With the help of best friend Sergeant Atherton and the sympathetic ear of newfound true love Joanna, Slider uncovers a far-flung conspiracy. Nicely detailed prose, approachable characters with very human problems, and comforting police procedure quicken the plot."

ANGELS & DEMONS (Thriller) - Dan Brown World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization -- the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth...the long-forgotten Illuminati lair.

FIRE, BURN! (Classic Mystery / Time Travel) - John Dickson Carr "Here is another in Carr's entrancing series of historical mysteries. Complete with an exciting and puzzling plot, period romance, and accurate historical detail, Fire, Burn! is a captivating depiction of the early years of the world's first true police force: Sir Robert Peel's "Peelers."

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