THE DANGEROUS EDGE OF THINGS by Tina Whittle

Tai Randolph is still adjusting to a newly inherited Confederate-themed gun shop when she gets a big shock: a murdered corpse in her brother’s driveway. Worse, her respectable sibling has fled to the Bahamas, leaving her to deal with the homicide and questions from the Atlanta PD. Complicating her plan to clear the family name is Trey Seaver, field agent for an exclusive corporate security firm hired to investigate the crime. Trey, recovering from a car accident that left him cognitively and emotionally damaged, is fearless, focused, and – to Tai’s dismay – utterly impervious to bribes, threats, and clever deceptions.

Tai’s investigations lead from the cold-eyed glamour of Atlanta’s adult entertainment scene to the gilded treachery of Tuxedo Road. Potential suspects abound. But it takes another murder – and threats to her own life – to make her realize that to solve this crime, she has to trust the most dangerous man she’s ever met.

This is the first in a six book series, and I gotta say, I really enjoyed it.  The writing style, the characters, and the plot just did it for me.  Hard to say exactly why, but I found it a fun read, not noir but yet not cozy either.  Well, done, Ms Whittle.

THE BABA YAGA by Leon Shure

The first book in the Myth-steries series, mysteries with a touch of the strange. A young doctor, Adam Karl, who has perceptual problems, and his “seeing eye woman,” Kayko Brasen, are asked by a Chicago Police Detective, Michael Dunne, to get testimony from an autistic child who is the only witness to his mother’s murder. Stalked, Dr Karl discovers frightening secrets about his own family.

Despite the damning with faint praise reviews obviously written by friends and/or family of the author, this was one of those odd books that make no sense, have only a tenuous hold on reality, but yet keeps you reading anyway.

The protagonist is a neurosurgeon just finishing his residency and beginning a practice.  BUT …. he is autistic, and has a condition called Prosopagnosia,  a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces. Prosopagnosia is also known as face blindness or facial agnosia. However, this guy also cannot see other people’s facial reactions, such as smiling, etc, so his uncle hires a woman to go around with him and whisper in his ear what the people look like and their expressions. WTF?  Even in his medical practice?  He also tells us in his first person narrative that his own voice and face have no affect, he sounds like a robot.

He is extremely wealthy, but the huge estate where he lives seems to have only a butler type person, a housekeeper, and one cleaning person, and a driver.

The police contact him to see if he can make contact with a little autistic boy who witnessed his mother’s murder. Then the whole book goes on and on about all kinds of other stuff, and he doesn’t make contact with the little boy until almost the end, and it is a failure.  Meanwhile, there is a whole conspiracy thing about a drug being developed — a kind of controlled virus, his helper woman get kidnapped, and after a bunch of other totally unrealistic events is found and rescued, and after a dose of something to reverse the effects of the drug she was given, is suddenly just fine and dandy.

Every character is just absolutely over the top, and the ending is that the family business seems to be a world-wide crime syndicate or something, led by his elderly grandmother, Baba Yaga.

I mean, really.  Really.

THE CELIBATE MOUSE by Diana Hockley

Police procedural meets cozy mystery meets rom-com, set in Australia.

Shell-shocked from a tragedy at work and an acrimonious domestic upheaval, Detective Senior Sergeant Susan Prescott flees town to recuperate, but fate has other ideas.

Her plan to house-sit for relatives in a rural community is shattered when Susan witnesses a very public murder within an hour of her arrival. Things turn sinister after an encounter with an elderly lady; a hint of a long ago murder is not a secret with which Susan wants to be entrusted.

Enter Detective Inspector David Maguire whom she has not seen for thirteen years and who is assigned to the case, which sends her into a further tailspin. Against her better judgment, Susan is drawn inexorably into the investigation, surrounded by menacing strangers whose private agendas threaten her safety, and soon, her life.

OK, the David Maquire who appears is her first husband and father of her twin teenage daughters.  Yeah.  I hear ya.  All the characters are over-the-top, from the one nasty-mouth daughter, to the believably handsome ex, to her extremely overbearing mother, to Maguire’s squeeze from another city who is also unbelievably overbearing and stalks him to this city, to the point of walking into Susan’s house not only not invited but without knocking in order to berate both Susan, whom she does not know, and David, who has been trying to break up with her.

Oh, yeah, and there is the current spouse, also overbearing, and the elderly wife of an elderly knight who pushes everyone around.

I can’t figure out how this supposedly formidable Detective Senior Sergeant just lets everybody boss her around, yell at her without consequences, and walk all over her.

Good and interesting mystery, but the whole rest of it was just plain stupid.

The title comes from finding a mommy mouse under the sink having lined her nest with photo evidence of the case, and one character saying if there is one, there are relatives, because there is no such thing as a celibate mouse.

TIME AND AGAIN by Brian D. Meeks

Fans of Dashiell Hammett, who long for days of Bogart and Becall, will appreciate Henry Wood’s sleuthing.

1955, Manhattan, and Henry has just gotten the call. Mickey is dead. His long time mentor and friend, run down outside their favorite bar, The Dublin Rogue. It looks like a simple hit and run, but his keen eyes notice there is only one empty parking spot on the street, and the pile of cigarette butts in the gutter tells a different tale. Somebody was waiting, but who?

A novel in black and white, it hearkens back to the days before Google, cell phones, and computer data bases. Henry must use cunning to uncover the truth, because everyone connected to the case has an agenda. There is much sleuthing and just the slightest hint of science fiction hiding in the closet of Henry’s basement. All of it, though, is there to give him a chance to uncover the answers.

Take a journey back in time and see Manhattan as it was when the Yankees always seemed to win, and Brooklyn had Ebbets Field and the Dodgers. There is history, intrigue and hints at romance.

A pretty good mystery set in the mid fifties in Manhattan, complete with a time travel closet that delivers newspapers from the future to help  Henry solve the mystery, which frankly, was a little hokey and didn’t add much to the story, which was mainly about the art world, forgeries and theft.

KNOTS AND CROSSES by Ian Rankin

Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…

Another damaged middle-aged cop who drinks too much and has a painful past, a divorce and a somewhat estranged pre-teen daughter mystery series.   Yawn.

He has a seriously f**ked up history in the army where he was brutalized in training, and now his partner from that time is haunting his nightmares.  I found it all overly dramatic, improbable, the kind of thing where you narrow your eyes and look askance at the perpetrator of this and then make a couple of other “Oh, reallly?” kinds of faces before closing the book.  Noir thriller, sub category damaged cop trope.

 

THE STAGES by Thom Satterlee

He trusts everyone, when he shouldn’t trust anyone.

How does a man with Asperger’s Syndrome step out of his office, leave behind the safety of his desk and books, and embrace the world he’s always kept at arm’s length?

All his life, Daniel Peters has hidden behind his reputation as one of the world’s best translators of the iconic Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. When his beloved ex-girlfriend and mentor dies under odd circumstances and a priceless Kierkegaard manuscript goes missing, Daniel turns out to be the last person to have seen her alive. To clear his name, he must leave the safety of his books and venture out into the streets of Copenhagen.

A murder mystery, a fine description of life as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, periodic interesting descriptions of how a translator works, and a story about family secrets.

Lots of fun, interesting, and I learned that Danes eat potato chips with a fork!  Gadzooks.

The title is from Kierkegaard’s Stages on Life’s Way.

 

THREE-WAYS By Mike Markel

Another in the Detectives Seagate and Miner mystery series.  Detective Seagate is a recovering alcoholic, and pretty much doing OK.  Dectectice Miner, her partner,  is a charming young man, a Mormon with strong convictions, recovering from a horrific shooting in the previous book, and now is walking around with a cane.

When grad student Austin Sulenka is found strangled, nude on his bed, the first question for Detectives Seagate and Miner is whether it was an auto-asphyxiation episode gone wrong. Evidence strewn around his small apartment suggests that he spent his last night with a number of different women. One was Tiffany, a former student who still resented the injustice of getting a C in the course when he promised her a B if she slept with him. Another was Austin’s beautiful girlfriend, May, who had never before encountered a man she could not totally beguile. Then there was his thesis adviser, Suzannah Montgomery, who might have inadvertently revealed to Austin some information about her past that could ruin her own career. These three women and their other partners had plenty of reasons to kill the philandering graduate student. Detective Karen Seagate and her partner try to unravel the complicated couplings. 

Another fine offering in this series.