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Posts Tagged ‘Poisoned Pen Press’

Endangered by Ann Littlewood

Endangered” is the third in Ann Littlewood’s “A Zoo Mystery” series, and it is a worthy follow up to her other novels.  The book was published in July by Poisoned Pen Press.

In “Endangered” zookeeper and widowed mom, Iris Oakley, is sent to collect some endangered and possibly illegal birds and tortoises at the ranch of a family of drug dealers who have been busted. The Finley Zoo, fictional zoo in Vancouver, Washington that Iris works for is so up to the gills trying to fit all the new animals in that Iris agrees to take a couple of macaws temporarily in the basement of her home.  By getting involved Iris becomes a target for the sons of the drug dealing family, and some other potential killers. What’s worse, she puts her son, Robby, and other family members in some danger.

Littlewood, who was a zookeeper at one time, really knows her subject matter well and makes it interesting for the reader to learn about fairly unique topics such as the smuggling of illegal exotic animals into the U.S. Not many authors can provide this type of insight within the plot of a mystery and make the information so interesting and accessible for the reader.  There are also more typical novel themes– how a working single mom can cope with a career and family at the same time; when is the appropriate time for a widow to get back out into dating men; and how to choose the good guys from the not-so-good.

Endangered” is another winner of a mystery from Littlewood.

Liz Nichols

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

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The 13th Target by Mark de Castrique

Well-known mystery writer, Mark de Castrique has written a fascinating, intense suspense novel about an attempt to bring down or, possibly remake, the country’s central banking system in his latest, “The 13th Target.”  The plot of this mystery revolves around the secretive world of the Federal Reserve Bank.  This central bank controls the money supply, but no government entity controls the Federal Reserve.  The President appoints the chairman of the Federal Reserve, but that is really the extent of public control on this shadowy institution. It is actually owned by private entities– large banks and wealthy families.  The plot is disturbingly plausible and reminds me somewhat of the chilling TV drama, “Homeland.”

Former Secret Service Agent, Russell Mullins, takes on a job through a private security company protecting a top Federal Reserve Bank official, Paul Luguire.  Mullins and Luguire become friends, and so Mullins is particularly concerned and suspicious when he is told that Luguire has committed suicide.  Mullins and Luguire had planned on meeting  to watch their grandsons play tee-ball, hardly the kind of date a man about to commit suicide would make.  As details begin to develop in the case it becomes clear that the death is a murder.  Mullins is implicated because of the discovery of a large transfer of funds to an offshore bank with his name on the account.  Mullins investigates not only to find out who killed his friend, but also to clear his own name.  He must solve the mystery before 13 bombs are set off intended to damage or destroy the central bank, its leaders and the branch banks.  Is the plot generated by a foreign terrorist cell or is this a domestic attack similar to that of the Oklahoma City bombing?

Readers will be glued to the pages of “The 13th Target” to the very last chapter.  Great read! The book was planned for a July release from Poisoned Pen Press.

Liz Nichols

(Reviewed from a supplied copy.)


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Target: Tinos by Jeffrey Siger

Target: Tinos” is the fourth in Siger’s “An Inspector Kaldis Mystery” series by Poisoned Pen Press. Siger, a former Wall Street attorney, now is a full time writer living part time on Mykonos in the Greek isles and part time in a rural New York  farm house.  He is obviously very well versed in Greek culture, history, mindset, and police practices.

I found this police procedural hard to put down because the book is filled with tantalizing descriptions of the Greek islands of Tinos and Mykonos and some of the rougher neighborhoods of Athens, the characters– both good guys and bad– are memorable, and the plot zig-zags almost as much as a narrow mountain road on one of the Greek isles.

Inspector Andreas Kaldis, chief of the Greek police Special Crimes Unit, is trying desperately to clear his calendar for his upcoming wedding on Mykonos when an apparent hate crime occurs on the island of Tinos.  Two gypsy men are found chained together and burned in a car.  It seems that everyone Kaldis and his investigators questions about this murder ends up dead– the last with a message clearly intended to scare off Kaldis of face a possible attack of his family during his wedding. Really, until the distinct threat comes in against his own life, no one in Greek government wanted anything but a hurried, hushed up conclusion to this crime against “outsiders.”  Kaldis refuses to be intimidated by the bad guys or rushed by his own bosses,  and makes the necessary arrangements to have surveillance at the church and reception while he continues the investigation.  As spectators readers know that something does get delivered that could blow up the church or ruin his honeymoon at any time and tension mounts as the author finally reveals what is in the box delivered as a wedding present.

There are so many potential killers for Kaldis and his team to investigate– rival gypsy factions, Albanian thugs, thieves of ancient church treasures trying to cover their tracks, or long-time wealthy residents of Tinos trying to return to their family glory-days.  Kaldis fearlessly investigates them all.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols


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A Crack in Everything by Angela Gerst

A Crack in Everything” is the first of what I hope will be a long Susan Callisto Mystery series by Angela Gerst.

Gerst is following in the tradition of the successful authors who write what they know about.  Like the heroine, Susan Callisto, Gerst has been to law school and has a passion for political consulting and reporting.  Both also know the local Boston political scene.  This is a very interesting skill set for a sleuth.

Callisto gets tangled up in a series of murders when she is wooed into taking on a new political candidate for a large sum of cash.  That candidate’s assistant is murdered, then he is murdered and several other people are hurt and intimidated, including Susan.  Is this the work of one killer or more?  Is the killer a man or woman? Is the killer someone from a local crime family, a local political family, or the family of the entrepreneur-come-politician, Chaz Renfrow, one of the victims.  Is there a relationship between Chaz’ family and that of Susan’s other local political candidate, Roddie Baird?  Could Susan’s substitute grandpa, Nino, have gotten angry enough about shenanigans  surrounding his Italian restaurant to have hurt someone?  All of these are questions Susan and her police detective honey, Michael Benedict, must answer.

Despite a few typos that spellchecker would not have caught (one of my pet peeves), I like this book and this character very much. Gerst has a tight, descriptive writing style that gives a detailed picture of the situation with a minimal amount of text.  It is refreshing how much detail can be packed into 257 pages (especially after reading Diane Mott Davidson’s 450 page “Crunch Time” last week, which has just about as many subplots).

I’m ready to read the next chapter in Susan Callisto’s life as a political strategist and real estate attorney.

This book was reviewed from a copy supplied by the publicist.  The book is being published on September 6 by Poisoned Pen Press.

Liz Nichols

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Dead Man’s Switch by Tammy Kaehler

Dead Man’s Switch” is the first in a new “Kate Reilly Racing Mystery.” The book was published Aug. 2 by Poisoned Pen Press as is a good example of the well designed and edited books that this publishing house puts out. I received a review copy to read just prior to the publication date.

Kate Reilly is a wanna-be American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race car driver who follows the teams around to every race in hopes that she will get a ride.  She got a taste of being a team member the previous season when a third driver was needed for one of the longer races and she acquitted herself well.  Everyone knows Kate can drive and is a quick study, but in this male-dominated sport, few expect that Kate will actually get a permanent ride.

When Kate finds experienced but unlikeable  racer, Wade Becker,  dead on the track as she about to do a practice run, the police first need to rule Kate out as a suspect.  She is subjected to suspicion from other drivers and their groupies long after the police rule her out as a suspect, especially when she is selected as Wade’s replacement.

As often happens in well written mysteries, there are so many possible suspects that it is difficult to crack the case any earlier than Kate does.  She has a second case to crack and she’s a little faster at solving that one: the onboard computer systems are being tampered with on some teams’ cars.  Is this related to Wade’s death?  Has Wade been blackmailing certain drivers, and is that a reason for his untimely death?

There is a lot of racing detail.  Those who like to watch Le Mans style road racing will look at this book like an insider’s manual to the sport.  Those who have no interest in racing may still appreciate this book because of its strong and interesting protagonist, Kate Reilly.  Picture Danika Patrick in a Corvette and you get the picture!

For me, there was maybe a bit more racing detail than I needed to read, but then I found Kate a really interesting character and one that will be fun to follow in future entries into this series.

The author, Tammy Kaehler, is a technical writer who had an opportunity to work in the world of racing corporate hospitality and obviously absorbed a great deal of the aura of racing, the personalities that are stereotypical of the people who work in that field, and the routines that teams go through to get ready for a race.  Kaehler does a great job of bringing her technical knowledge in to the creative world of mystery writing.  Job well done!

Liz Nichols

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