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Posts Tagged ‘stalking’

THIN ICE by Paige Shelton: Book Review

The beauty of Alaska takes pride of place in this first in a series, but the fascinating protagonist is a close second.  Beth Rivers, known to the readers of her books as Elizabeth Fairchild, has fled to Benedict, Alaska from her home in Missouri.  It’s small and remote, just what she’s looking for, and thus a place where the man who kidnapped and held her prisoner for three days before she managed to escape could never find her.  Or so she fervently hopes.

Beth has booked a room via the Internet at Benedict House, which she assumed from her online search was a hotel housed in a former Russian Orthodox Church.  Actually, as she finds out when she arrives, it’s a halfway house for women on parole.  Since there are no realistic options for other housing, Beth decides to stay there in spite of its unusual inhabitants:  Viola, the no-nonsense owner and the parolees–Willa, Loretta, and Trinity, all shoplifters.  The three parolees take turns cooking, and although none has been convicted of a violent crime, Viola’s rule is that the woman whose turn it is to cook the meals on a particular day has to taste the food in front of the others before she serves it.  Take no chances would appear to be Viola’s motto.

Only three people know who Beth is or the reason she is in Benedict.  One is her mother; one is Detective Majors, who is still searching for Beth’s attacker; and the third is the town’s police chief, nicknamed Gril, who was told about the reason behind Beth’s arrival in Benedict by Detective Majors.  Beth uses burner phones to call the first two and calls them only when necessary.  She cannot imagine any way that her abductor could possibly find her in a town that’s only reachable via plane or ferry and where all passengers are logged in on arrival, but she still locks the door to her room at the Benedict House, both when she’s inside it and when she leaves.  Better safe than sorry, she thinks.

But even in a town of five hundred inhabitants, sudden death can strike.  Just before Beth’s arrival another transplant from the lower forty-eight, Linda Rafferty, was found dead in the cabin she shared with her husband George.  Gril tells Beth that although Linda’s death has been ruled a suicide, he thinks it looks like murder.  George Rafferty is nowhere to be found, and Gril wants to keep the investigation open.

Gril knows that Beth has a civilian’s background in police work, and he asks her if she’d be willing to do two things.  First, would she be willing to act as a consultant, if needed, to help his undermanned police force.  Second, would she consider taking over the Benedict Petition, the town’s weekly newspaper that stopped publication after the death of its editor a year earlier.  Much to her own surprise, Beth agrees to both, and almost immediately she’s consumed by the investigation into Linda’s death.

Paige Shelton has written an engaging mystery with a heroine to admire.  I’m hoping to see Beth Rivers again soon.

You can read more about Paige Shelton at this website.

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.

AFTER THE FIRE by Jane Casey: Book Review

Murchison House, London, is a dismal place.  Broken elevators, out-of-order closed circuit television cameras, disgusting stairwells.  Only the poorest and most hopeless people live there.  And when a fire runs through it, it brings even more despair and grief.

Maeve Kerrigan, a police detective on the Metropolitan force, is called at home with the news that a fire has broken out at the House.  It’s already known that three people are dead, and there’s a strong possibility of more deaths.  And when Maeve arrives at the scene, minutes later, it’s as horrific as she’d thought.

One corpse has already been found and identified, that of Geoff Armstrong, a racist, homophobic, xenophobic member of the House of Commons.  At first glance it appears that Geoff threw himself through a window to avoid the smoke and flames, but a closer examination shows that he was already dead when his body hit the cement.  Why this politician, with his extreme right-wing views, would be at Murchison House in the first place is a question without an answer.  No one seems to be devastated at his death, but it’s still a high-profile case that the authorities want solved immediately, if not sooner.

Two young women, both without identification, have been found burned to death in their locked apartment.  In addition, an elderly woman has been taken to the hospital on a stretcher, a young girl has been brought to the same hospital in critical condition, and a boy who doesn’t seem certain of his name is alone and asking for his mother.  All these living people are more important to Maeve and her supervisor, Detective Inspector Josh Derwent, than looking into the death of Geoff Armstrong, but they are under orders from Chief Inspector Una Burt to make the Armstrong case their priority.  But Burt can’t follow them everywhere, can she?

There are also other stresses in Maeve’s life.  Rob, her long-time partner, has left her, and although she has discovered that he was unfaithful, she still misses him and keeps making excuses for him in her mind.  She is also being stalked by a man who has been following her for years and now seems to know her every move.

Maeve Kerrigan is a fascinating heroine.  She loves her job and is very good at it, but she hides her insecurities behind a façade of toughness and extreme independence.  She’s been in a depressed state since the end of her romance with Rob, but she’s afraid to let anyone know how she feels.   She’s also conflicted about her feelings about Josh Derwent.  He’s certainly an impossible man, but he always has her back.

Jane Casey has written another spellbinding mystery.  As always, her characters and plot are well-developed and realistic and will keep you guessing until the very end.

You can read more about Jane Casey at this web site.

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


WANT YOU DEAD by Peter James: Book Review

Detective Inspector Roy Grace is getting married in ten days.  He’s hoping that his caseload will remain quiet until then and for a few days afterwards, when he and Cleo are scheduled to head to Venice for their honeymoon.  Everything looks good until he gets a phone call telling him that a burned corpse has been found on the grounds of the Haywards Heath Golf Club.

The body is that of Karl Murphy, a local physician.  At first it looks like an open-and-shut case of suicide, Karl having left a clear, concise note on the seat of his nearby car.  The note says that his life has lost its meaning since the death of his wife two years earlier and that he hopes his two young sons will someday be able to understand his action.  Roy Grace is finding it difficult to believe that a doctor would kill himself in this horrific way, with pills so easily available to him, but there doesn’t seem to be any other explanation.

At the same time that Karl’s body is being examined by the police, Red Cameron is in her apartment, waiting for him to appear for their dinner date.  At first she’s annoyed by his lateness, then she begins to worry–in the several months they’ve been dating, Karl has never disappointed her.  Phone calls and texts to him go unanswered; when she finally goes to bed, annoyance has reasserted itself, and she’s beginning to have second thoughts about their future together.

Before meeting Karl, Red was in a relationship with Bryce Laurent.  At first, Bryce had been wonderful to her.  Kind, warm, very generous with gifts, he made her feel really special.  But after a few months, a darker side to his personality came through.

As her parents and friends had told her shortly after the two met, he was controlling and violent, traits Red refused to acknowledge at the time.  By the time Bryce turned to physical and sexual violence in order, as he told her, to prove his love and convince her that they truly belonged together, Red finally admitted to herself that he was a dangerous man.

Despite a restraining order that she got against Bryce, Red is always looking over her shoulder.  And with good reason, because the reader finds out almost at once that the murder of Karl Murphy is only the first step in Bryce’s plan to revenge himself on the woman who left him.

Want You Dead is a thriller up to and including the last page.  Told from several vantage points, it allows us into the minds of the police detective, the psychopathic killer, and the fearful yet resourceful woman who is determined to correct the mistakes she’s made and now live life on her own terms.

You can read more about Peter James at this web site.

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