The East Bay Mystery Readers' Group - 1 July 2003 Meeting Recap

ANGELS & DEMONS (Thriller) - Dan Brown - Very Good "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."

While at times a bit over the top, we all agreed it was a very entertaining, very inventive story--a definite page turner with a well-constructed plot.

FIRE, BURN! (Classic Mystery / Time Travel) - John Dickson Carr - Okay "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."

Although Blaire and I both really enjoyed this when we read it many years ago, we found we enjoyed it much less today. It is written in the style, but not the language, of the 1800's and suffers in today's sensibilities. In particular, the character of Flora is vapid to the point of annoying.

ORCHESTRATED DEATH (British Pol. Proced) - Cynthia Harrod-Eagles - Good "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."

Charlotte has a hard time starting out, but then she found she enjoyed it. Blaire liked it pretty well and we all agreed the emotional dilemma of the main character worked better than the mystery. The strength is in the writer's wit, style and characters, not in the mystery.


FAMILY VALUES (Police Procedural) - K.C. Constantin "The District Attorney of Rocksburg, Pennsylvania asks retired police chief Mario Balzic to come out of retirement to investigate a special case. Seventeen years ago, a drug deal went bad and two pushers were killed. The man convicted of the crime, Lester Walin, insists that he is innocent and has proof to back his claim."

JUROR NUMBER ELEVEN (Legal Thriller) - Terry Devane "No sooner are criminal defense aces Sheldon Gold and Mairead O'Clare successful at getting Boston gangster Big Ben Friedman acquitted of murder than the eponymous Juror Number Eleven is found dead in her home just after she places an urgent call for help to O'Clare. "

COLD SLICE (Amateur Sleuth) - L.T. Fawkes "Ex-con Terry Saltz has lost his wife, his job, his truck, and his motor home. A couple of weeks after he is on the streets, he takes a job as a driver for Carlo's, a very popular pizza place. When one of the least liked drivers is killed, Terry and company decide to do a little investigating on their own because nobody messes with the people who work at Carlo's."


DEAD GIRLS DON'T WEAR DIAMONDS (Amateur Sleuth - cozy) - Nancy Martin "When a high society jewel thief winds up drowned at the bottom of a pool with a tacky garden gnome tied to her ankles, ex-debutante Nora Blackbird must swing into action to save her old flame from a murder charge. And when suspicion is directed onto Nora herself, she must find the killer or risk trading her grandmother's couture for an orange jumpsuit."

THE HOUSE ON SPRUCEWOOD LANE (Amateur Sleuth) - Caroline Slate "Estranged from her family, documentary filmmaker Lex Cavanaugh is pleased to get an e-mail from nephew JaredDuntil she reads it and discovers that his ten-year-old sister has been murdered. With everyone in the family under suspicion, Lex must rush in and protect Jared. "

STORMY WEATHER (Police Procedural) - Paula L. Woods "The suspicious death of respected black film director Maynard Duncan, a pioneer in his field, stirs up passions throughout the minority community's upper-middle-class enclaves in Woods's intriguing take on Old Hollywood from the African-American perspective. Detective Charlotte Justice finds herself more involved than she might like when the LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide division gets the call."

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