A fun escapist read with engaging characters and intriguing historical morsels; a solid series addition.

THE MYSTERY AT MOUNT FOREST ISLAND

From the Cora Tozzi Historical Mystery series , Vol. 3

A ghost haunts the woods outside Lemont, Illinois, in this third installment of a mystery series.

Billy Nokoy, a 20-something Native American, knows he is considered a loser, but now he also thinks he must be going crazy. He seems to have the power to cause lightning bolt–style destruction. There is only one person who might be able to help him understand what happened at Mount Forest Island—Cora Tozzi. Grandmotherly Cora was there the day Billy’s mysterious force was released. Meanwhile, Valerie Pawlik, who was permanently blinded in an automobile accident two years ago, also faces a crossroads. She has mastered navigating without her eyesight, but her brother and sister-in-law want her to move out of their home. Divorced, without a job, the mother of an 11-year-old daughter living in California, and just about out of savings, Valerie is stuck in place. According to her psychological counselor, Father McGrath, she needs to make friends, never her strong suit, and to confront her unresolved emotional baggage—her mother abandoned the family when Valerie was 13 and she never saw her again. Father McGrath recommends she seek help from Cora, with whom she had a bitter fight just before her car crash. Everything is in place for Camalliere’s special sauce, a mixture of present-day drama, history, and unexplained phenomena—plus, of course, a ghost, in this case one who is a bit confused but determined to exact revenge. From the 1920s until the early ’40s, Mount Forest Island was home to a golf course and clubhouse used by Al Capone and his friends as well as a farmhouse with mob connections. The structures were torn down decades ago, but left behind, apparently, was some unfinished personal business. Billy’s and Valerie’s quests begin to converge when he becomes the reluctant mystical conduit between past and present. He alone sees the once-abandoned, now nonexistent structures, and only he interacts with the very talkative spirit. The author supplements genealogical research and supernatural meddling with satisfying, well-paced action scenes.

A fun escapist read with engaging characters and intriguing historical morsels; a solid series addition.

Pub Date: March 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-937484-72-9

Page Count: 359

Publisher: Amika Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

OCEAN PREY

No oceans in Minnesota, you say? That won’t stop Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who are clearly determined to burn through their bucket list on the federal government’s dime.

The murders of three Coast Guard officers chasing a suspicious boat in Florida waters by crooks who set fire to the boat moments after abandoning it send shock waves through the DEA, the FBI, and eventually the U.S. Marshals Service. In short order Lucas and his colleague and pal Bob Matees find themselves on a task force Florida Sen. Christopher Colles convenes to find the drugs the fugitives managed to dump into the Atlantic before they shot their pursuers and arrest everyone in sight. The duo’s modus operandi seems to be to talk to everyone who’s seen anything, and then talk to everyone they’ve mentioned, and so on, taking regular breaks to drink, reminisce, and swap wisecracks. Everything is so relaxed and routine that fans of this long-running series will just know that Sandford has something more up his sleeve, and he does. Eventually the task force’s net widens to make room for Virgil, who, working with Marshal Rae Givens, hires himself out to the criminals as a diver who can retrieve those drugs while Lucas and his allies work their way higher and higher up the food chain of baddies. The cast is enormous and mostly forgettable, but Sandford manages to work up a full head of steam when Lucas realizes that his scorched-earth tactics have put Virgil and Rae in serious danger.

Sprawling and only intermittently suspenseful till that last act: below average for this distinguished series.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-08702-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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