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Posts Tagged ‘Mafia’

A STRING OF BEADS by Thomas Perry: Book Review

I had a habit when I was a child–if a book was too suspenseful, I would turn to the last page to see how it ended.  Reading A String of Beads brought back that memory because I had to stop myself from doing it again.  Thomas Perry knows how to write a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Jane Whitefield, born of a white mother and a Seneca Indian father, is now a doctor’s wife, ostensibly living a quiet life as a volunteer teacher of the Seneca language and a fund-raiser for her husband’s hospital in New York State.  But all of her adult life she has had a secret–she helps innocent people who are in danger leave their current lives and begin again with new names, new jobs, new habits.  She’s best described as a guide to a new life.  When she married Dr. Carey McKinnon she promised to give up that part of her life, but she keeps being drawn back into it when she knows someone is in danger.

In A String of Beads, Jane is approached by the eight clan mothers of the various branches of her tribe.  Jane’s activities have been known to the mothers for some time, they tell her, but there hasn’t been a reason until this moment for them to ask for her help.  The string of beads in the title is called by the Senecas ote-ko-a.  The giving of the ote-ko-a symbolizes the mothers’ request for Jane to find one of their tribe members; her acceptance of the beads is her agreement to do so.  

Jimmy Sanders, a childhood friend of Jane’s, is being sought by the police as a suspect in a murder.  All the mothers agree with Jane that Jimmy could never have killed a man, but foolishly he has run away, and they are asking Jane to find him.  She sets out the following morning to retrace the trip that she and Jimmy took when they were teenagers, thinking that in his desire to evade the police he may have have gone back to that familiar trail; in fact she finds him there.

However, the police aren’t the only ones searching for Jimmy, and in fact they aren’t the most dangerous ones.  The man who is the murderer and who set Jimmy up for the crime is anxious for Jimmy to be found and jailed, or else simply killed.  The question before Jane and Jimmy is why has someone gone to so much trouble to incriminate him.   

A String of Beads is the eighth Jane Whitefield novel.  As with all series mysteries, we know that the protagonist will survive, but the author must make us care that she does so.  With Jane, the reader is in awe of her cleverness and determination to protect her charge from whomever is trying to kill him.  In this book, the childhood that Jane and Jimmy shared makes her even more determined to keep him safe and find out who is behind the murder and why Jimmy was chosen to be the “fall guy.”

Thomas Perry will keep you turning the pages ever more quickly with his inspiring heroine and brilliant plot.  This is another terrific mystery from the author.  He never disappoints.

You can read more about Thomas Perry at this web site

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site. 





LIE DOWN WITH THE DEVIL by Linda Barnes: Book Review

Linda Barnes‘s latest mystery novel takes her heroine, P.I./taxi driver Carlotta Carlyle, to a fork in the road.  It’s not the first time Carlotta has had to make a choice concerning her on-again, off-again lover Sam Gianelli.  But in Lie Down With The Devil the decision seems permanent.

Carlotta walks the path of other female private investigators, although she varies that career path with working as a cab driver down the sometimes mean streets of The Hub, as Bostonians like to refer to their city.  As in Hub of the Universe.

She’s in the mold of Kinsey Milhone, V . I. Warshawski, and Sharon McCone. She’s tough, strong, and determined.   But she’s got two soft spots–one for her “foster daughter” Paolina, whose father was a Colombian drug lord, and the aforementioned Sam of the Boston mafia.  Nice company she keeps, doesn’t she?

Now Carlotta is facing two dilemmas.  Sam has left the country without explanation and without telling Carlotta where he is.  The problem is that the police and F.B.I. don’t believe Carlotta, and they’re determined to get Sam’s whereabouts from her.  And Paolina, recovering from being kidnapped and the brutal death of her father, won’t speak to Carlotta.

A new client enters Carlotta’s office.   She spins a story about being suspicious of her fiance, with only weeks left to the big wedding, and she wants Carlotta to follow him for just one night while she’s away.  If he’s faithful that night, she’ll marry him; if not, she’ll call the wedding off.  It seems kind of bizarre to Carlotta, but she needs the money and the distraction from her own problems, so she takes the case.  Then two Boston detectives come to have Carlotta identity a dead body, and it’s her client.  The name she gave Carlotta was false, the “fiance” can’t be found, and the cops think that Carlotta is responsible for the client’s hit-and-run death.

I really do enjoy this series.  Carlotta, like Sharon McCone, Kinsey Millhone, and V. I. Warshawski, are believable characters, women whom you would like to meet.  They’re strong and resilient, yet not afraid to show their vulnerabilities.

You can learn more at Linda Barnes’ web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.