Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Harriet's Reviews

Laughed ‘Til He Died
Carolyn Hart
Morrow, Apr 6 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 978-0061453090

On the small South Carolina barrier island of Broward's Rock lives Max and Annie Darling. Annie owns the mystery bookstore Death on Demand while Max runs an inquiry agency Confidential Commissions.

Jean Hughes, director of Haven, a youth recreation center, is not having her contract renewed due to the lobbying of her former lover affluent and influential businessman Booth Wagner. Jean asks Max to help her keep her job because her sister is dying and they want to stay here. However, Booth succeeds in forcing Jean to give up her position. On the night she is to announce her resignation, someone kills Booth. The evidence mounts that Jean killed her ex lover, but both Darlings think otherwise as they believe Jean would never risk anything at that this time due to her beloved sibling’s failing health as separation is unacceptable. Max and Annie learn that Booth made a myriad of enemies that include his family and ex wife. However, pressure on Max mounts when Annie and Booth’s heir end up in the crosshairs of a killer.

The Darling Death on demand mysteries are always a special treat because the investigation seems genuine with a plenty of suspects and the loving relationship between Max and Annie enriches the whodunit story lines. Carolyn Hart’s latest cozy is filled with strong characterizations including a killer in plain sight, but readers will find it almost impossible to determine who that person is even with clues also in plain sight. Carolyn Hart provides another Darling regional mystery.
Harriet Klausner

A River in the Sky
Elizabeth Peters
Morrow, Apr 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780061246265

In 1910 Egyptologists Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson learn their son Ramses has been kidnapped in Palestine. Though the information is sketchy, apparently German archaeologist, Frau Von Eine and her Muslim partner Mansur abducted Ramses.

Amelia and Radcliffe rush to Palestine focusing on rescuing their son and preventing a looting of biblical treasures in Jerusalem by an amateur Morley interested only in money. At the same time, Ramses focuses on escaping captivity. Although they have no idea what the motive is, his parents deem their best chance of locating their son is avaricious Morley who has links with Von Eine.

This is a terrific look at Palestine in 1910 as archeologists, professional and amateur descend on the biblical treasures of the country. The story line is fast-paced throughout, as the escapades of Amelia and Emerson, and separately those of Ramses are gripping. Although the key element behind the kidnapping never elucidated, fans will enjoy this fine "memoir" in a strong early twentieth century series. Harriet Klausner

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