The Black Country

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  Alex Grecian
Title:  The Black Country 
The Black Country: a novel of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad by Alex Grecian is the second installment of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad and, to me, contained traces reminiscent of a crime which truly occurred. For more information on the true crime case, please see The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: a shocking murder and the undoing of a great Victorian detective by Kate Summerscale. The Murder Squad is sent to the black country or coal country to find some missing family members. Sutton Price, his wife, and his youngest son have disappeared. The three older children are fine and are being cared for by the housekeeper and watched over by the townspeople. Meanwhile, the detectives are trying to find the missing family members and being hindered by the superstitious nature of the townsfolk and by the fact that the ground is slowly giving away due to the tunnels being carved beneath for coal mining. Sutton Price’s second wife is his children’s former nanny and the children view her as an interloper. The first wife ran away. The detectives do finally succeed in unraveling the whole miserable tale in the place that is causing such trouble for the townspeople, the mineshafts. The youngest son was murdered by a most unusual suspect and gave me pause because it forces one to consider the nature versus nurture argument. Is evil learned or is it an innate force? The Black Country is an excellent read for those who appreciate a good mystery.

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Death, taxes, and a French manicure : [a Tara Holloway novel]

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Diane Kelly
Title: Death, taxes, and a French manicure : [a Tara Holloway novel]
Were you aware that the Internal Revenue Service has agents who are licensed to carry guns? I wasn’t cognizant of this fact until I started to read the Tara Holloway novels penned by Diane Kelly. The series begins with Death, taxes, and a French manicure and continues with Death, taxes, and a skinny no-whip latte; Death, taxes, and extra-hold hairspray; Death, taxes, and a sequined clutch (novella); Death, taxes, and peach sangria; Death, taxes, and hot-pink leg warmers; Death, taxes, and green tea ice cream; Death, taxes, and mistletoe mayhem (novella) and coming soon is Death, taxes, and silver spurs. Tara Holloway is a Texas girl, born and bred, and the Annie Oakley of the IRS. Her marksmanship skills soon put her on the hot seat with the equivalent of the IA (Internal Affairs) Department. In the latest adventure, Tara is called to account for her use of weaponry. She did not use deadly force but instead, or so the review alleged, shot to avenge the abuse that her fellow operatives underwent on this last mission. Her fellow female operative was fed a date-rape drug and was on the verge of being sexually abused, while her male counterpart was being beaten by two thugs. Tara Holloway is a strong female character and I look forward to her further adventures.

Dying to know : a Gumshoe Ghost mystery

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: T.J. O’Connor
Title: Dying to know : a Gumshoe Ghost mystery
Do you ever wonder if you will come back if something is left unresolved in your life on Earth? Well, in Dying to Know : a Gumshoe Ghost Mystery by TJ O’Connor, the protagonist, a detective, is murdered. His motto is a play on “Physician, heal thyself” and is actually “Detective, solve thyself.” Detective Oliver Tucker, who hates his name but loves his wife and dog, is on the trail of the person who snuffed him but must first learn to master the rules of being a ghost. He cannot travel the same way anymore but must mentally focus on where he wants to be and transport himself mentally. His energy is collected from electrical sources such as light bulbs and cell phones. Too much energy use and he is incapacitated. His longtime detective partner does not believe in ghosts and so ignores, for the most part, Tuck’s communications and warnings. Tuck’s wife is more accepting of Tuck as a ghost, and so, she aides her ghostly husband in the search for the truth. I enjoyed this title immensely and cannot wait for the sequel(s).

Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula : or, The adventure of the sanguinary count

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  John H. Watson
Title:  Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula : or, The adventure of the sanguinary count 
Sherlock Holmes is an enduring character in my literary world. He is a tall, gaunt man, famous for stating “How often have I said to you (Watson) that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” In Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula or the Adventure of the Sanguinary Count by John H. Watson, M.D. as edited by Loren D. Estleman, Sherlock Holmes is on the trail of that most imfamous vampire, Count Dracula of Transylvania. The Count has decided to relocate his base of operations, little realizing the formidable opponent he will face upon England’s shores. Holmes solicits the assistance of his erstwhile and forever faithful companion, John Watson in fighting this villain. There are some hairy moments when the fate of these two men seems to hang in the balance.

The corpse reader

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  Antonio Garrido
Title:  The corpse reader
Just imagine, if you will, being gathered in a crowd of peasants, sickle in hand, waiting impatiently for the official to pronounce sentence. The official scans the crowd, looking for his witness, and finally spots him. The witness is indicating “Yes, this is the sickle that slew the peasant.” The official beckons forth the peasant holding the sickle and pointing to the witness, a fly, on his blade, pronounces sentence. When the peasant inquires as to how the official knew, the official points to the fly and his brethren. The fly would not sit on your blade without something to attract it and so even though you cleaned the blade, the fly knew there had been blood on the blade. Now imagine you are in China and this is really happening to you. The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido is a novel based on an actual Chinese personage, Ci Song.  Ci Song was the father of Chinese Forensic Sciences and the official who used a fly as a witness. The beginning of the novel was a little slow but soon enough it caught me in its web. From that moment on, I could not put the book aside. Ci Song experiences many moments of pain but is always moving forward. He exemplifies strength in the face of adversity and always attempts to honor his family ties.

Puss in boots [videorecording DVD]

From Andrea  Kalinowski
Author:  Wheeler Tom
Puss in boots [videorecording DVD]
Puss in Boots (DVD) was a brand new take on an old tale. Antonio Banderas voiced Puss and Salma Hayek lent her sultry tone to his love interest, Kitty Softpaws. Kitty Softpaws was a double-edged moniker – Softpaws  because she is a deft thief and Softpaws because her owners declawed her for either playing too rough one day or clawing their furniture. This movie was mainly a blend of old nursery rhymes and it was woven together quite seamlessly. Humpty Dumpty was Puss’s friend in the orphanage but their paths diverged. Humpty Dumpty was eternally in pursuit of the magic beans which he thought would bring him wealth. In the end, Humpty Dumpty redeemed himself. Even though this movie is rated PG-13, I would definitely not let the under 13 set watch it by themselves since many of the themes were for mature audiences.

Death of a chimney sweep : [a Hamish Macbeth mystery]

From Andrea Kalinowski
author: Beaton, M.C.
Death of a chimney sweep : [a Hamish Macbeth mystery]
 The latest in the Hamish Macbeth mysteries by M.C. Beaton just appeared on the library shelves and what an entertaining read it was. Hamish is back with his seemingly lazy persona and smart, incisive brain. He is not ambitious and makes no secret of that fact. He is part of the landscape of Lochdubh and has faith in the people he polices. Outsiders are to be distrusted and every time a stranger appears in the small village, murder and mayhem follow. His pets, Sonsie and Lugs, are the only ones with whom Hamish seems able to commit and they repay his loyalty by defending his life. The murder victim is an embezzler and one of his victims was unable to contain his rage and ire at being duped and so stuffed the embezzler up a chimmey. The chimney sweep is an initial suspect until he is found on the moors, murdered. Hamish is the first to connect the dots with inituitive leaps and his theories prove true.