Friday, July 3, 2009

THE COFFIN DANCER by Jeffery Deaver

By Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster Inc.
ISBN: 0684852853
Hardback, 360 pages, $25.00
Genre: Mystery

A bomb used to murder a federal witness convinces criminologist Lincoln Rhyme that the Coffin Dancer has returned to New York. Rhyme would like nothing more than to arrest the Coffin Dancer, who murdered several of his team members years before. But the Coffin Dancer is a master of disguise and always seems to stay one step ahead of the police. The two remaining targeted federal witnesses are taken into protective custody but the killer manages to infiltrate their safe houses each time the witnesses are moved. Amelia Sachs conducts a physical investigation while Rhyme, a quadriplegic, investigates from his own lab, both working against a forty-eight hour time frame.

This second book in the Lincoln Rhyme mystery series confirms this is a series that will be around for awhile. Deaver offers his reader a thrilling mystery packed with forensic science. Rhyme and Sachs are a winning combination and Deaver delves a little deeper into their personas and attraction to one another. A page turner that will hold the reader vested throughout.

MIA'S GIFT by Victoria and Craig Weeden

by Victoria and Craig Weeden
Illustrated by Del Hopewell
Jazz Angel Press
Banner Elk, NC
ISBN: 9781439213292
Trade paperback, 132 pages, $12.99
Genre: Children’s fiction, ages 6-12

Since her mother’s death, Mia is trying harder than ever to be closer to her dad, who researches manatees. Like her mother, Mia senses manatees and helps her dad locate them but what Mia’s dad doesn’t know is that Mia can also communicate with the manatees. Mia’s favorite manatee, Muzzles, is pregnant and Mia worries about her safety. Shortly after Muzzles gives birth, her baby is stolen, and Mia and her friend Clark place their own lives in danger to save her.

This is a creative, well-illustrated book which children will treasure. Mia is a sweet character and her friend Clark, who stutters and whose family is down on their luck, is the perfect counterpart. The story is heart-warming, the characters engaging, and the message concerning manatees and the dangers they encounter from humans important and welcome and very much needed. Parents and teachers will appreciate the premise for this book, which would be the perfect addition for school classrooms as well as school, home, and public libraries.

A CORPSE IN THE SOUP by Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner

by Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner
L&L Dreamspell
Spring, TX
ISBN: 9781603181204
Trade paperback, 262 pages, $16.95
Genre: Mystery

Goldie Silver and Godiva Olivia DuBois may be identical twins with the ability to communicate with one another telepathically, but that’s where their similarity ends. Fashion-conscious Godiva, living in Beverly Hills, writes an advice column called Ask G.O.D. Free spirit Goldie lives in Juneau, Alaska, where she owns an antique store. Godiva takes Goldie’s daughter Chili, a sous chef, to the taping of popular Chef Caesar Romano’s show. Romano asks Godiva to sample the food and she passes out from food poisoning. Goldie flies in to help, and at the hospital, Romano confides that someone is sabotaging his show. Romano offers Chili a job as his assistant, and Goldie and Godiva put their heads together to try to figure out who’s got it in for Romano. When his nemesis Biff Wellington is found with a knife in his back, Romano’s the number one suspect and Godiva, romantically interested in Romano, is out to prove him innocent, along with the help of her sister Goldie and their mother and uncle, two former Vaudeville magicians.

This fun mystery romp will keep the reader guessing while enjoying the antics of Goldie and Godiva, along with their quirky family. The characters are amusing and endearing, and even the dog Waldo has his humorous moments. The plot moves along crisply, offering plenty of red herrings, and is twisty enough to provide a good whodunit. A Corpse in the Soup, first of the Silver Sisters Mystery series written by sisters St. James and Bradner, is a refreshing addition to the mystery world.

DEAD WRECKONING by Sylvia Dickey Smith

by Sylvia Dickey Smith
L&L Dreamspell
P.O. Box 1984
Friendswood, TX 77549
ISBN: 9781603181389
Trade Paperback, 252 pages, $16.95
Genre: Mystery

Sidra Smart, divorced from her controlling husband of thirty years and present owner of the Third Eye Detective Agency, temporarily keeps her office at her Aunt Annie’s house, where she lives with her aunt and dog Slider. Sidra is reluctant to take on the case of Boo Murphy, a woman accused of murdering her neighbor. Sidra isn’t too sure Boo’s all there, as Boo claims to have seen an 18th century pirate schooner in the Texas swamp, and Boo doesn’t have the means to pay an investigator. But when Sidra sees the schooner for herself, she is intrigued and begins to look into the case, only to be warned off by her mentor and assaulted by unknown assailants. With the aid of her dog Slider, Sidra pursues her investigation, which leads her into the past, to the days of pirate Jean Lafitte and Mary Anne Radcliff, Lafitte’s partner and Boo’s ancestor.

Smith adds plenty of action and adventure to this installment of the Third Eye mystery series, with an interesting dose of piratical history and ghosts. Sidra Smart is an engaging character, a woman fiercely committed to her independence. She is beginning to find her place in life and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself, even against the bad guys. She’s smart and likeable, and many women will identify with her. Sidra’s dog Slider plays an important part, and Smith nicely weaves his abusive past into the story. This page turner will hold readers’ attention throughout as they follow Sidra’s growth as a woman and investigator.


by Lin Stepp
Parkway Publishers
P.O. Box 3678
Boone, NC
ISBN: 9781933251660
Trade paperback, 240 pages, $14.95
Genre: Romance

College professor Vivian Delaney rents a house near the Smoky Mountains, claiming she’s on sabbatical. Scott Jamison, whose family owns the house Vivian is renting, runs neighboring Buckeye Knob Camp. When Scott meets Vivian, he suspects there’s more to her story than Vivian is telling, but Vivian is adamant about her reason for being there. The two are attracted to one another although Scott is reluctant to love someone he feels he can’t trust. Vivian eventually earns Scott’s confidence, but their relationship is threatened by Vivian’s attachment to a foster girl.

Lin Stepp creates a heartwarming tale of love and redemption, family and faith. Her visual imagery nicely establishes time and place, and readers will fall in love with not only her charming characters but the picturesque setting for this inspirational story. This debut novel in the Smoky Mountain Series is sure to garner fans across genres, offering a plot filled with romance and suspense, set amidst the backdrop of the breathtaking Smoky Mountains.