Category Archives: Mystery (NOT Cozy)

Tami Hoag’s Secrets to the Grave

Secrets to the Grave is the second in the Deeper than Dead series (which began with a book of that title; I read it exactly one year ago–January 2010). In this book, Hoag continues the story of Anne and Vince and their motley circle of friends and colleagues.

Overview (taken from author’s website):
“She lay discarded like a life-sized broken doll—made up, torn up, and cast aside, her brown eyes cloudy and lifeless.”

Marissa Fordham had a past full of secrets, a present full of lies. Everyone knew of her, but no one knew her.

When Marissa is found brutally murdered, her young daughter, Haley, with her head on her mother’s bloody breast, this mystery woman sends the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll into a tailspin. Already on edge with the upcoming trial of the See-No-Evil killer, residents are shocked at reports of the crime scene, which might not have been discovered for days but for a chilling 911 call: a small child’s voice saying, “My daddy hurt my mommy.”

The police face a puzzle with nothing but pieces that won’t fit. To assist with their only witness, four-year-old Haley, they call teacher-turned-child advocate Anne Leone. Anne’s life is hectic enough—she’s a newlywed and a part-time student in child psychology, and she’s the star witness in the See-No-Evil trial. But one look at Haley, alone and terrified, and Anne’s heart is stolen.

As Anne, her FBI profiler husband, Vince, and local sheriff’s deputy, Tony Mendez, begin to peel back the layers of Marissa Fordham’s life, they find a clue fragment here, another there. And just when it seems Marissa has taken her secrets to the grave, they uncover a fact that puts Anne and Haley directly in the sights of a killer: Marissa Fordham never existed at all.

 I like mysteries, and I really like police characters. The ones in this series range from the FBI to the small town and cover most of the bases! I enjoyed them all. I also liked that the setting was 1986: no cell phones, no DNA, no super forensics of any kind (as the author explains in an introductory note). Despite that, the book had a very contemporary feel (in that it was written like contemporary mysteries in terms of tone, characters, etc.). I don’t know how else to explain it. I know Sue Grafton has Kinsey Millhone set perpetually in the 1980s, and I like those mysteries, but they always feel a bit old-fashioned to me (people being disowned, cold cases being investigated, etc.). This did not. I had to tell myself several times that it was 1986: no DNA!

I expected this book to focus on some of the peripheral characters from the first novel, and while we certainly got to know a few better and the groundwork was laid for a future romance, this one really focuses on Anne and Vince again (Anne more so). Usually after characters get married and have their “happily ever after,” they are relegated to the sidelines. Not this couple! I like that Anne is a stronger character than I expected. In the last book, she was a victim. In this, she is no one’s victim. Despite being attacked at one point, Anne is not portrayed as fragile or helpless (even if Vince would like her to be). I did figure out the mystery before the main characters (60% mark?), but the character interaction and development held my interest. I will watch for the next one.

Happy Reading!


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In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz

In Too Deep is Jayne Castle / Amanda Quick / Jayne Ann Krentz’s lastest in her Arcane Society series. Because I have read every book in the series eagerly, I bought this one on its release date for my eReader. This particular book is the first in the Looking Glass Trilogy, and it is simultaneously described / categorized as a paranormal mystery, a detective novel, and a romance.

The product description is as follows: Scargill Cove is the perfect place for Fallon Jones, confirmed recluse and investigator of the paranormal. It’s a hot spot, a convergence point for unusually strong currents of energy, which might explain why the town attracts misfits and drifters like moths to a flame. Now someone else has been drawn to the Cove — Isabella Valdez, on the run from some very dangerous men…. 

Fallon Jones has been a peripheral character in all of the contemporary Arcane novels, so I was very excited to read his story. I was also very pleased. This book makes a perfect love match for a remarkable character, and the mystery keeps me guessing. I cannot wait until March when the next book of the series comes out!

Arcane Novels:

  • Second Sight
  • White Lies
  • Sizzle and Burn
  • The Third Circle
  • Running Hot
  • The Perfect Poison
  • Fired Up: Book One of the Dreamlight Trilogy
  • Burning Lamp: Book Two of the Dreamlight Trilogy
  • Midnight Crystal: Book Three of the Dreamlight Trilogy
  • In Too Deep: Book One of the Looking Glass Trilogy

Happy Reading!

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Eight Days to Live by Iris Johansen

When I saw Eight Days to Live by Iris Johansen being billed as an Eve Duncan forensic thriller on the Sony eReader Bookstore site, I bought it immediately. I have read every Eve Duncan book! However, this book is not about Eve Duncan or forensics. Instead, it focuses on Eve’s adopted daughter Jane and her fight to save herself from being sacrificed by a cult worshipping the most well-known traitor of all time: Judas.

The product description reads:

Eve Duncan and her adopted daughter, Jane Macguire, are pitted against the members of a secretive cult who have targeted Jane and have decided that she will be their ultimate sacrifice. In eight days they will come for her. In eight days, what Jane fears the most will become a reality. In eight days, she will die. It all begins with a painting that Jane, an artist, displays in her Parisian gallery. The painting is called “Guilt” and Jane has no idea how or why she painted the portrait of the chilling face. But the members of a cult that dates back to the time of Christ believe that Jane’s blasphemy means she must die. But first. she will lead them to an ancient treasure whose value is beyond price. This elusive treasure, and Jane’s death, are all that they need for their power to come to ultimate fruition. With Eve’s help, can Jane escape before the clock stops ticking?

I think Dan Brown fans would find this book fascinating. It had many similarities to the Davinci Code except that the fanatics of the text were not trying to protect the cult / descendants of Mary but those of Judas. In addition, the book includes some paranormal thrills with the return of Seth Caleb, the vampire (or not) from Blood Games and a new ability for Jane to “dream” things true.  It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was okay. I didn’t put it down disappointed.

Happy Reading!

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