The East Bay Mystery Readers' Group - 5 August 2003 Meeting Recap

FAMILY VALUES (Police Procedural) - K.C. Constantine - Not Recommended "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."

This was universally panned by the group. Andrea found it gratuitously gross, totally unrealistic and without a mystery. There were inconsistencies and serious legal errors. Blaire thought the dialogue was okay, but she wouldn't read another. Charlotte had trouble getting into it, felt the middle was okay but the end unsatisfctory. Libby didn't like the character's relationship with his wife. I started it, but but it down at page 46 and didn't pick it up again. This was a definite miss.

JUROR NUMBER ELEVEN (Legal Thriller) - Terry Devane - Okay - "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."

This was a bit better. Andrea had read the first book in the series and had enjoyed it. Blaire thought it was okay, but the constant voice of the Mother Superior in Mairead's head was annoying. It didn't add anything and was a distration from the story. Libby was also very annoyed by that and felt it was belittling to the character. This of us who had only read this 2nd book in the series felt we clearly had missed the back story behind the characters and that the only really interesting character was the investigator. The book seemed long and was plodding.

COLD SLICE (Amateur Sleuth) - L.T. Fawkes - Okay+ "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."

We all agreed this was the best of the lot. The killer was farily obvious, but the book was light and fun. I liked it the best of the group. Having been married to a carpenter, I could identify with the characters. It's an okay, quick, light read.


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."


THE LAST KASHMIRI ROSE (Historical Mystery) - Barbara Cleverly "Scotland Yard Detective Joe Sandilands is asked to look into a series of deaths in Calcutta in 1922. A number of British officers' wives have died in what looks like the work of a clever serial killer who "arranges" deaths for each of the victims in a manner that relates to her worst fears. "

THE PUSHER (Police Procedural) - Ed McBain "2 a.m. in the bitter cold of winter: the young Hispanic man's body was found in a tenement basement. The rope around his neck suggested a clear case of suicide -- until the autopsy revealed he'd overdosed on heroin. He was a pusher, and now a thousand questions pressed down on the detectives of the 87th Precinct: Who set up the phony hanging? Whose fingerprints were on the syringe found at the scene? Who was making threatening phone calls, attempting to implicate Lieutenant Byrnes' teenage son? Somebody was pushing the 87th Precinct hard, and Detective Steve Carella and Lieutenant Pete Byrnes have to push back harder -- before a frightening and deadly chain tightens its grip."

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES (Legal Thriller) - Sheldon Siegel "Mike Daley gets fired from a prestigious San Francisco law firm, he starts a private practice. His first case is huge--to defend his best friend and former colleague, who's accused of killing two people at his old firm. Working to prove his friend's innocence, Daley uncovers the dirty secrets of his former partners and begins to question the legal system itself."

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