The East Bay Mystery Readers' Group - 7 October 2003 Meeting Recap

BOOKS FOR OCTOBER 7th are:

THE LAST KASHMIRI ROSE (Historical Mystery) - Barbara Cleverly - EXCELLENT "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. "

This was our definite favorite of the three. We all liked the fact that while the time period and setting added interest and dimension to the story, it was basically a very good mystery/police procedural. We highly recommend this book.

THE PUSHER (Police Procedural) - Ed McBain - GOOD - VERY GOOD "Two 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."

Although it feels as though it's retro noir, one must remember PUSHER was written in the 1950's. In fact, the new re-issue has a very interesting afterward written recently by the author. That said, McBain is the master of tight plotting, creating sense of place, and diverse characters. Considered the father of police procedurals, and although some liked this particularly entry more than others, we all agreed his books are well worth reading.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES (Legal Thriller) - Sheldon Siegel - VERY GOOD "When 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."

As Blaire said, this was a "ripping good read and a real page turner." While some of us are not usually fans of courtroom scenes, this one held our interest and taught us things about the criminal trial process. Linda liked the humor and the plotting and Charlotte mentioned she enjoyed the character's internal dialogue as well as verbal. We all agreed this was a very good read.

BOOKS FOR NOVEMBER 4th are:

SILENT PROOF (Police Procedural) - Michael A. Hawley Twenty-five years ago, a woman was murdered in a Seattle park. The crime went unsolved. To homicide detective Leah Harris and her partner Frank Milkovich, the only possible suspect is Clifford Bakerman-a career criminal about to be released from prison on an unrelated rap. They have thirty-six hours to make another charge stick and keep Bakerman where he belongs. But startling new evidence-and a shocking new murder-plunge Leah and Frank into a life-and-death game with a deadly-and secret-opponent.

BLOOD DOUBLE (Amateur Sleuth) - Neil McMahon On a March evening in San Francisco a dying man is dumped in Mercy Hospital's parking lot, and it doesn't take ER's head doctor, Carroll Monks, long to discover he's more than just your average overdosed junkie. Only minutes after the man is swept away by his physician and several tough looking bodyguards, the hospital is set on fire and vandalized, the man's blood samples gone. Soon Monks and his daughter, an intern at Mercy, are being targeted for what they know and forced to flee for their lives in search of answers.

WALKING ON WATER (Psychological Thriller - Gemma O'Connor American art dealer Evangeline Walters is dead...bound to a tree at the water's edge of a small Irish coastal town. Garda Sargeant Francis Recaldo, the town's only policeman, finds himself digging up details of the victim's private life--details that could incriminate his friends and neighbors and the married woman he loves, who becomes his prime suspect.

BOOKS FOR DECEMBER 2nd are:

BLOOD JUNCTION (Amateur Sleuth) - Caroline Carver When journalist India Kane travels from Sydney to the outback town of Cooinda for a reunion with her friend, Lauren, she has no idea of the town's appalling history. Forty years earlier an entire aboriginal family had been massacred there. Picked up by an off-duty cop when her car dies en route, India arrives in Cooinda to find that Lauren has disappeared. The next day Lauren's body, and the cop who helped India, are found murdered. India, the last person to have seen the cop alive, is arrested for murder. India knows that she has been framed for the murder, and resolves to find out why Lauren died. In time, she ties these deaths to the earlier massacre and discovers a beautiful, yet awful truth about her own history.

DON'T LEAVE ME (Police Procedural) - Clare Curzon Eight years ago, Caroline Winterton disappeared, a case that fell into the hands of ambitious Sergeant Mike Yeadings. However, the crime, if indeed there was a crime, was never solved. But now Caroline's eleven-year-old daughter, Julie is missing. And Yeadings, now detective superintendent, wonders if this episode of déjà vu will finally reveal what happened to the girl's mother.

TROPHY WIDOW (Legal Thriller) - Michael A. Kahn Rachel Gold agrees to represent Angela Green, a convicted murderer who has been offered a lucrative book deal. In gathering background, Rachel discovers some inconsistencies in the murder case that cast doubt on Green's guilt and reveal a multilayered construct of greed, sex, and political finagling that involves some of St. Louis' most prominent citizens.

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