Nerd’s Note: All chapter titles are in binary numbers!
Davis, William G.
Paperback, 1st Books Library
A fine start from a good writer, this book introduces Sergeant Mike Gage as twenty years veteran Palm Beach cop and ex-marine on the hunt for the people who have been leaving a spotty trail of dead young women with their hearts cut out over the period of his career with the police. The murders occurred in various jurisdictions in Southern Florida and no one but Mike seems to think they are the work of a single cult. While no longer being actively investigated, the cases are not closed and Mike has a large box of information he’s collected relating to the murders in the hope that the “missing link” will turn up and lead to a solution.
Then, a woman escapes from some people who could be the ones responsible. She provides good descriptions of those involved which leads Gage into a hot chase which turns up an unlikely suspect: a rich financier who supports cryonics research and a foundation which may be funding some questionable organizations with roots in a legend of evil incarnate.
The author hopes to write more books featuring Mike Gage in series. He is concerned because he had difficulty in getting anyone to publish this, his first book, because of it’s “cross-genre” standing. As Mystery/Thriller with supernatural elements, major publishers apparently fear that the market will be small.
I believe this fear on the part of publishers to be unfounded. This book is primarily a mystery and thriller. It features a strong and likable main character in a first-person narrative, one that will without a doubt appeal to readers who like series books with good characters. The detective work and characterizations are done well here; it is only within the activities of the “cult” that the supernatural elements are introduced.
The “Horror” genre, suggested as a “sub-classification” for this book, seems to be one with appeal to people who delight in musing on the contents of the dark, unknown corridors of the universe and the human mind, while “Mysteries” and “Thrillers” seem to be designed to appeal more to people who like things neatly wrapped up in the end. Are these types of books really all that different?
Pagan Moon reads first and foremost like a Mystery and Thriller. In a mystery, people are often killed for personal reasons–money or revenge. In the two thrillers I’ve read recently, terrorists kill in order to obtain power. The antagonists in this book kill to obtain power, only their goal is power over not only nations but all of the mankind. As you can see, the leaps from each genre to the others are short ones.
Can a detective prevent a single instance of this type of power grab? Can he root out the evil which spawned the attempt? Mike Gage is thrust into the position of attempting to do just that, and his story is engaging and action-packed.
Beacon Street Mourning
Doubleday Books Hardcover
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Another one of my favorite San Francisco detectives, Fremont Jones, completes a trip that was to have been made in the previous book, “Death Train to Boston,” in this early 1900s mystery.
For those of you not familiar with the character, Caroline Fremont Jones fled Boston for San Francisco to seek her fortune not long before the 1906 earthquake. Her stepmother was trying to get her to marry her nephew and she just wasn’t ready. She began to go by her middle name and started her own business which, over time, evolved into a detective agency she ran in partnership with Michael Archer Kossoff.
This book finds Fremont recovering from injuries she acquired when she was on her way to see her father in Boston and was abducted after a train crash in Mormon country. This trip, Kossoff accompanies her, in part because she is still slowly recovering from broken bones from the earlier misadventure.
Fremont had learned that under her stepmother’s care, her father’s health declined radically. Fremont intensely disliked her stepmother, one of the reasons she left Boston and has her father moved to a hospital. In the hospital, Leonard Jones seems to get much better; shortly after he is released to recuperate further at home, he dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Fremont is sure her stepmother is responsible. Kossoff thinks her personal animosity is driving her suspicions.
This was a page-turner of the first order, the kind that makes you stay up too late on a work night. Descriptions of interactions between characters are very perceptive and well-drawn.
The day continues to deliver a very realistic character in Fremont Jones. In this book, she adds further period detail as Fremont collides with Boston society after living in the more liberal West. Fremont’s independent streak, as partially evidenced by her continued refusal to wed Kossoff, seems to bend toward sentiment when she considers her father’s desire to see her married before he dies. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens, though, unless some other reviewer gives it away!
I always like to say that I note improvement when books are added to a series. That’s not necessary here, however, because the books consistently meet a high standard. You should find no problem in reading them out of order.
As an adult, I’ve found Day’s books to be very entertaining and well-researched. I believe they’d also be appropriate and of interest to high-school-aged readers.
According to the book jacket, the author is working on a new book, a suspense novel based on the life of Clara Barton. While I’m sure it will be wonderful, I hope Ms. Day will not abandon the Fremont Jones character!
Death Train To Boston
Imagine waking from injuries sustained during a train wreck to find yourself kidnapped by a Mormon man who is determined that you shall become his 6th wife! If you can’t, Fremont Jones’ latest adventure will give you a taste of a different sort of terror, in addition to the mystery surrounding the explosion of the train. The enigmatic Meiling Li makes another appearance to assist Michael Kossoff in finding Fremont, who is a delight as always. This is Day’s best so far, and a set of all five of the books would make a delightful present for the mystery reader in your family.
Emperor Norton’s Ghost
Emperor Norton, self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, appears through Fremont Jones’ friend Frances at a seance and later gives her instructions to complete a mission for him. When the medium who held the seance turns up dead, followed by The City’s other well-known medium, Fremont takes on the case in an effort to prove herself an independent investigator in the Discreet Inquiries firm she runs with partner Michael Kossoff. Fremont Jones is an entertaining character and woman ahead of her time in this series of mysteries set in San Francisco in the early 20th century.
Fire and Fog
The adventures of a woman who survives the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 and turns detective.
The Strange Files of Fremont Jones
It’s the turn of the century San Francisco and Fremont starts a typing service. One of her client’s problems becomes her own.
See also the author’s site: http://www.avadianneday.com/
See also San Francisco for other books set in The City.
The Body Spoken
A story within a story. A woman tells the story of her life to a man on a train. He offers little of himself in the book except as a listener who is affected by her tale, which is a good one.
The Bone Collector
Quadriplegic Criminalist Lincoln Rhyme wants to die. In fact, he’s consulting a doctor who specializes in assisted suicides. The doctor meets Rhyme to evaluate his mental state and finds his mood changes when he is brought the case of the Bone Collector to investigate.
The Coffin Dancer
Thanks, mom, for another good suggestion! Lincoln Rhyme continues on as a criminalist for the NYPD after an accident leaves him a quadriplegic. In this tale, he seeks a killer hired to kill witnesses to another wanted criminal’s doings. A potential victim throws shoes in the works by trying to save her company’s new contract despite officials’ efforts to keep her safe.
The General’s Daughter
The time may not be right to recommend this book since I’ve read it in the wake of the recent and much-publicized movie. Perhaps, though, like myself, you just didn’t happen to see it, or avoided it because of friends’ comments or reviews. If you haven’t seen the movie, though, you will find this book riveting.
The book begins with a U.S. Army general’s daughter found dead, possibly raped, at a rifle range on the post where both she and her father are stationed. CID Officer Paul Brenner takes the case, although a poor outcome in a high-profile case such as this one could have a negative impact on his career. He also finds himself in a somewhat uneasy partnership with a former paramour who is a specialist in rape cases.
Brenner digs through the victim’s life and unearths a surprising multitude of suspects. He deftly negotiates a slalom through mounds of hazards, attempting to avoid bad press for the army and the involvement of possible suspects in the investigation. At the same time, he deals with the possibilities of a renewed relationship with his partner.
I read another of Demille’s books some time ago based on the recommendation of my local librarian. It may have been my mood when I read it but I was never inspired to read another one until now. After this one, though, I’ll be looking for the rest, and recommend that you give this one a try.
I recently re-discovered Diehl when a co-worker loaned me one of his earlier books. Great storyteller. This mystery tale takes a murder investigation back to an early California town once called “Eureka” (not the present day one).
Also, try Thai Horse
Footprints in the Butter
An Ingrid Beaumont Mystery
Delphi Books Hardcover
Who killed Wylie Jamestown? Did he see it coming? If so, did he leave clues for Ingrid on purpose, as she seems to think when she seeks the murderer? The answer may lie in an elephant joke, like the one suggested in the title.
Ingrid is a composer, not an investigator. Still, her knowledge of the deceased and the other characters involved in the story definitely make her well-suited for the task. The killing has taken place in the wake of a class reunion which may have caused simmering tensions to come to a head. Closer examination of her friends reveals a plethora of marital and extra-marital problems, including long-standing jealousies and desires, as well as a number of delightful plot twists.
Ingrid and the other characters are drawn with a sense of humor. I think you will find this a “whodunit” worth your time. Reviewed 1-9-00.
Douglas, Carol Nelson.
Midnight Louie Mysteries. Here is more light mystery reading for the cat lover.
- Cat on a Blue Monday
- Cat Nap
Full Moon Bloody Moon
Full Moon Publishing Hardcover
Hunters of a serial killer enlist Chase to help them track the perpetrator, whose grisly killings seem to happen more frequently when a full moon occurs on a Friday the 13th. These two, a cop and a professor, have been collecting data and trying to track the killer for a long time. After a while, it appears that one of them may be involved.
Complications arise when Dagger’s ex-girlfriend, Sheila, tries to stick her nose into the investigation, with tragic results. Other characters from the first book are involved as well, including Einstein, Dagger’s talkative macaw.
I had long looked forward to the second book in the series featuring Chase Dagger and Sara Morningsky because the end of the first book hinted at the revelation of more about Dagger’s past. While I was disappointed that not much new was revealed in this regard, this book is still an intriguing and fast-paced mystery with an interesting twist: Sara finds out she may not be the only shapeshifter, and that all people with that power may not use it for good.
Gripping until the finale, this tale should keep you awake on Halloween! The only problem I can mention with this book is that it seemed too short. Again, I’ll be waiting for the next in the series to appear.
“Lee Driver” is a pseudonym for the dark side of S.D. Tooley, author of another mystery series.
The Good Die Twice
Hardcover, Full Moon Publishing
Great mystery! First, in a planned series, this book introduces PI Chase Dagger and his assistant, Sara Morningsky, as they investigate a murder for which nobody can be found. The murder was witnessed by Sara, a Native American who can shape-shift into a hawk or a wolf. The victim looked like a woman whose death in a boating accident was assumed some years earlier, although her body was never found then, either.
I really loved this book and was disappointed when it ended because there is not yet another in the series to read, although another Chase Dagger book is due out next year. The main characters were very likable, and I can’t wait to learn more about them. Helping them was Dagger’s very vocal macaw named, appropriately, Einstein.
In other reviews I have read of this book, reviewers have noted that they were initially hesitant about reading it because of the supernatural part of it but they ended up liking it. It was very well handled as part of the character and made for a great opening to the book. Reviewed 12-13-99.
Jill Smith Mysteries, set in Berkeley.
As a Favor
An Equal Opportunity Death
A Dinner to Die For
Interview with Susan Dunlap
San Francisco Bay Area mystery author. Interview by Sue Trowbridge.
The Two Mrs. Grenvilles
This great historical fiction author has produced more than one series, but I have only read this one, “The Lymond Chronicles,” set in Scotland in the 1500s.
Game of Kings
Pawn in Frankincense
The Ringed Castle
For an excellent review of the first book in the series, click here.
See also publisher site and author fan site.