Thursday, November 21, 2013

Murder As A Second Language-Joan Hess

Murder As A Second Language

Joan Hess

Minotaur, Dec 17 2013, $25.99

ISBN 9781250011961

To fill out the volunteer section of their college applications to schools like Vanderbilt, teenage BFFs Caron and Inez become ESL tutors. At the same time, Caron’s bookselling mom Claire applies as a volunteer at the troubled Farberville Literacy Council. Instead of becoming a tutor like her daughter, Claire ends up on the Board of Directors, but quickly seeks an exit strategy as the FLC is a cesspool filled with embezzlement claims and financial problems.

Not long after Claire joins the FLC, her new husband Deputy Police Chief Peter Rosen rationalizes breaking a personal vow that she will sleuth anyway when he asks his wife to help him investigate the murder of ESL student Ludmila Grabowski; she has insider access he does not have. The elderly acrimonious Russian was found dead in a FLC storage room, but her body seems to have been moved as evidence suggests she banged her head on a copying machine. Claire finds many of her board member peers with the opportunity and concealing all sorts of activities that mostly do not relate to the late Ludmila, but who committed the act remains out of reach.

The latest Claire Malloy Arkansas whodunit (see Closely Akin to Murder, Mummy Dearest and Deader Homes And Gardens) is an exciting mystery. The enjoyable storyline contains the typical albeit somewhat toned down zaniness especially the suspect pool filled with amusing underdeveloped characters. Series fans will enjoy this fun regional whodunit; as Claire learns that volunteerism in her case proves that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dust-Patricia Cornwell


Patricia Cornwell

Putnam, Nov 12 2013, $28.95

ISBN: 9780399157578

After working the Newtown tragedy, emotionally weary Dr. Kay Scarpetta goes to her home in Cambridge for some needed sleep. In the middle of the night the mentally exhausted chief medical examiner is awakened by detective Pete Marino calling her. He tells Scarpetta that a female corpse was found at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Briggs Field.

Scarpetta arrives at the athletic field murder scene. She quickly realizes that the killer purposely posed grad student Gail Shipton, which implies to the M.E. that she is not the first victim. She wonders why the predator covered the body with dust while thinking her case looks similar to the Capital Murderer investigation her FBI husband Benton Wesley is investigating. Scarpetta and her Cambridge Forensic Center team learn that Shipton sued her fired financial managers and that someone(s) with influence wants the homicide to go unsolved.

The latest Scarpetta forensics investigation (see Postmortem) is an exciting whodunit that as always uses current advances in an understandable manner without dumbing them down. Though the storyline slows down at times when it turns personal, this entry is overall a fast-paced twisting murder mystery with Scarpetta at the top of her game and Wesley deeper than ever.

Harriet Klausner