A Fatal Stain
Berkley Prime Crime, Oct 2 2012, $7.99
Daring Finds furniture refinishing storeowner Candyce "Dyce" Dare is running out of diversions as her mom and her BFF Ben Colm demand she join them to plan her wedding to Goldport Serious Crimes Unit Chief Investigator Cas Wolfe. Dyce struggles with their concept of Pythagoras dressed in a tuxedo as the Best Cat and fears whatever else the dynamic duo has in mind.
While sanding a table she bought at the semi-permanent garage sale, Dyce uncovers a stain that looks like blood. Though she knows it is probably her imagination running wild due to growing up in her parent’s mystery bookstore, Dyce visits the garage sale location accompanied by E. She learns the last owner vanished; so she wonders if the disappearance ties back to the stain.
The latest A Daring Finds investigation (see French Polished Murder) is an amusing amateur sleuth starring a likable but immature heroine. The mystery is fun to follow though Dyce has no real reason to make inquiries. Still fans will enjoy this cozy and appreciate tips on restoring furniture.
If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance
Berkley, Oct 2 2012, $7.99
In Broken Rope, Missouri, Miz Winston owns Gram’s Country Cooking School; her granddaughter Isabelle “Betts” Winston works closely with her. Betts’ best friend, Broken Rope’s Historical Society historian and fake sheriff Jake asks them if they can host a busload of foodies whose reservation was messed up and provide cooking lessons. The two relatives wonder where anyone will stay except the floor as their establishment is not a hotel; Betts arranges accommodations for the foodie crowd.
Soon afterward, Miz and Betts encounter the ax-wielding ghost of patricide murderer Sally Swarthmore. She pleads with the pair to find her diary that will prove she is not the notorious cold-blooded killer of legend. They also find one of their guests dead with a noose around his neck; two other foodies are missing. Betts turns to her boyfriend Cliff of the local police department while also doing an inquiry.
The latest Country Cooking School Mystery (see If Fried Chicken Could Fly) is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring a heroine struggling to adapt to communicating with ghosts though she has a mentor helping her adjust. The pair of whodunits engages the audience though the solutions of each seem obvious early on. Still fans will enjoy Betts working paranormal and human murder cases. Harriet Klausner
Spy in a Little Black Dress
Grand Central, Oct 2 2012, $14.99
In 1951, CIA rookie Jackie Bouvier feels better about her espionage work after surviving her first assignment (see Paris To Die For) and having received some need training. Deputy Director Allen Dulles asks the Washington Times-Herald photojournalist to meet and flirts with Jack Kennedy as he wants the Massachusetts Congressman to become “a friend of the CIA.”
Jackie is sent under the guise of her photojournalist job to Cuba. There she is to learn what she can about revolutionary Fidel Castro by getting inside the Communist Party. The CIA wants to better understand his objectives and whether he is a viable threat to the brutal regime of Battista.
The second Jackie Bouvier, CIA operative thriller is a fun over the top of Pico Turquino espionage tale. Fast-paced with plenty of action and anchored in time and place by real persona like Hemingway and Sinatra, fans who relish an exciting implausible action thriller will enjoy Jackie meeting Jack and Fidel as the Spy in a Little Black Dress. Harriet Klausner
The Gemini Virus
Forge, Oct 2 2012, $24.99
In Ramsey, New Jersey, Bob Easton dies in horrible agony from an unknown illness that had him suffering from large pustules on his entire body and total delirium,. However before he passed away, Bob spread the disease to others. Six more people are dead while the local health responders are overwhelmed with the sick.
Centers for Disease Control Epidemic Intelligence Service epidemiologists Michael Beck and Cara Porter investigate the horrific deaths. As they work the New Jersey epidemic trying to identify what the killer is and whether Easton is patient zero, the disease spreads exponentially across the United States and beyond. America panics as does the world.
With a nod to the movie Contagion, The Gemini Virus is a vivid (the audience will become mysophobia agoraphobic), exhilarating lethal virus thriller. Part of the fun is the reactions of people as some welcome the biblical End of Days while others blame the government. Fast-paced from the first cough and sneeze, the storyline never takes a respite as the Gemini Virus goes viral. Harriet Klausner