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Gloria's Bookshelf.

The Dead Lie Down

Sophie Hannah

Penguin

c/o Penguin Publishing Group

375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014

9780143117490 $15.00 www.amazon.com www.penguin.com

The newest book by Sophie Hannah concerns itself with obsession and revenge, and consists in large part of enigma piled upon enigma. As one reads the first twenty or thirty pages, one thing seems abundantly clear: Ruth Bussey is one very strange woman. In the opening pages, she and her boss/lover, Aiden, have each decided to share one stunning secret from his/her past with the other, after which no questions will be asked. Ruth's is almost impossible for her to speak about, literally. Their relationship is an odd one, to say the least: although love has been declared, and neither is a virgin, they remain chaste. The one essential, it seems, is that much of what each knows about the other is a lie.

But Ruth's is not the only odd, and chaste, relationship, Sergeant Charlotte "Charlie" Zailer, ex-CID currently working with the Culver Valley Police, and her fiance DC Simon Waterhouse, both making a return appearance here, being the other. But dysfunctional connections, familial and otherwise, abound in this novel. Charlie's back-story is not gone into in any detail, except that is clear that yet another past relationship nearly ruined her life, and severely damaged her career. Simon's career is here regularly threatened as well.

These characters come together when Ruth seeks out Charlie, to whom she is a stranger, to tell her that Aiden has told her that he has killed a woman, a woman Ruth knows to be quite alive. Beyond that, the salient story lines take a lot of patience on the part of the reader, or it did this one at the least. It takes a couple of hundred pages before any part of the intricate and convoluted plot makes any sense, and another hundred or so before any clarity takes place. There are several twists and turns, and shocking revelations, along the way.

Fourth Day

Zoe Sharp

Allison & Busby

13 Charlotte Mews, London W1T 4EJ, England

9780749008154 19.99 BPS www.allisonandbusby.com

[It should be noted that this book is available at this time only in/through the UK and Canada, not yet in the US]

Fourth Day is the name of a once subversive organization formed in the 1960's and known for its cult-like origins, but claiming to work wonders especially with vulnerable adolescents [and others] with delinquency and drug addiction problems. It has more recently been headed by one Randall Bane, its new and charismatic leader suspected of having more sinister ambitions. This newest in the series brings back Charlotte ("Charlie") Fox and her lover, Sean Meyer, a junior partner in Armstrong-Meyer, a "close-protection" [read "bodyguard"] organization, now tasked with retrieving a man who has been living within Fourth Day's grounds on its large real-estate holdings in Southern California. Their 'target,' Thomas Witney, had initially infiltrated the organization five years prior to get proof that Fourth Day was responsible for the death of his son, but for some reason never left. There is some question as to whether or not he will come willingly, but they are told that that is not to be an obstacle. When things go awry, Charlie volunteers to herself infiltrate the organization, with appropriate back-up. What she finds is unexpected, to Charlie and the reader.

This is a fast-paced and suspenseful novel, as Charlie, now 29 years old, is going through some difficult times, personally and professionally. She is nonetheless at the top of her game, and that is very good indeed. The plot races through to a stunning conclusion, which left me more anxious than ever to read the next installment in the series. Highly recommended. [The title, btw, is a Biblical reference-Genesis to be precise-as well as having a double meaning in the final pages.]

Killer Instinct

Zoe Sharp

Busted Flush Press

PO Box 540594, Houston, TX 77254-05944

9781935415138 $15.00 www.amazon.com www.bustedflushpress.com

Just having read Zoe Sharp's eighth and newest book, "Fourth Day," the latest in the Charlie Fox series, I had the additional pleasure of reading the very first book in the series, "Killer Instinct." In fact, this was the first novel published by Zoe Sharp, in 2001, and now issued for the first time in the United States. It is a fascinating look at the introduction of this protagonist, two years after she was "asked to leave" the British Army after a traumatic incident that left her physically and emotionally scarred

Now twenty-five years old, Zoe teaches self-defense to classes of women, many of them victims of abuse and residents of a Women's Refuge. Shockingly, within a short time frame, two such residents are raped and murdered, with no clue as to the perpetrator. Not yet the proficient "close protection" operative she will become, Zoe is nonetheless very capable, using the skills learned in the Army though still without the Killer Instinct of the title.

Zoe also takes on a part-time job as part of the security staff at the New Adelphi Club, in nearby Morecambe, quite taken with its charismatic owner, but finds it more challenging than anticipated, in unexpected ways. When there is a third killing, Zoe becomes convinced that there is a connection to the club, if not to the rape/murders as well.

Just as compulsively readable as the later entries in the series, nonetheless I felt this book slightly weaker in two respects: The foreshadowing which ends the first two chapters, as well as the fact that I found myself at least a bit ahead of the protagonist, with the unsettling feeling of waiting for her to catch up. This is a small quibble. Reading the first in the series was delightful, and I am looking forward to the second, "Riot Act," which Busted Flush Press is publishing in the US in September of this year.

Neighborhood Watch

Cammie McGovern

Viking Press

375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014

9780670022038 $25.95 www.amazon.com www.penguin.com

Betsy Treading was convicted of the murder of Linda Sue Murphy, a divorcee and a neighbor on her street in suburban Connecticut, and has served twelve years in prison before she is exonerated on new DNA evidence. In the interim, she has lost everything: her home, her marriage, her job as a librarian. In a show of compassion, another neighbor-the only one to visit Betsy in prison-has offered to take Betsy into her home on Juniper Lane when she is released from prison. Grateful, Betsy nevertheless finds that she must still prove her innocence to everyone who still is not convinced that she did not commit the crime.

Most of the neighbors have since died or moved away, one of the latter being her former husband's childhood friend, Geoffrey Steadman, a published author going through writer's block when he moved into Juniper Lane who had charmed every neighbor, male and female, Betsy among them. But she is compelled, even after all these years, to find the real killer. The one constant through the book is that everyone has things they hide, from themselves and others: "All of us carried secrets inside of us, ticking like bombs waiting to detonate."

Betsy is a woman given to panic attacks and parasomnia [more commonly referred to as sleepwalking]. She has never quite broken free of the effects of her troubled childhood, and has been haunted as well by her childlessness [after having five miscarriages], to the extent that she has given names and personalities to each of the babies she was unable to bring to term. She has many blank spots in her memories of the six years she and her husband lived on Juniper Lane [well, many more than that, but these are the pertinent ones], and as the book progresses she gradually remembers bits and pieces of critical events, including the night that Linda Sue died. The intensity quietly builds up as Betsy, and the reader, realizes the truth, coming only in the last few pages of the book. This is a very different, and compelling, novel, and I will be very interested to read more books by this author [this is her third novel].

The Glass Rainbow

James Lee Burke

Simon & Schuster

1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020

9781439128299 $25.99 www.amazon.com www.SimonandSchuster.com

From the first page of his shattering new novel, James Lee Burke's gorgeous prose enfolds the reader, who cannot help but be enthralled, to the extent that one finds oneself wishing that the book could just go on forever. Or at least that was my own feeling, so completely was I under the author's spell. And when the stunning conclusion does come, that sentiment was only reinforced. It is nothing new to say that James Lee Burke's writing includes perfectly drawn portraits of even minor characters, as well as lush descriptions of the Louisiana of his and his protagonist's birth. In this case, he also brings to life the history of the area, in its plantation society, pre-Emancipation days, primarily through two of its characters. One is Kermit Abelard, the scion of the wealthy Abelard family, with its historical New Orleans prominence, who has been romancing Dave's adopted daughter, Alafair, as the novel opens. Dave objects to the liaison, mostly because of the large difference in age, as well as his suspicions about the family and its morality, or lack thereof; another aspect is the relationship between Kermit and Robert Weingart, an oft-convicted felon whose part in Kermit's life is of questionable motive and definition. Robert has become a celebrated author as well, and that in turn plays a part in the two men's influence on Alafair, herself an aspiring novelist.

The other old-Louisiana player is Layton Blanchet, a millionaire who hires Clete Purcell, Dave's life-long friend from their days with the New Orleans P.D., now working as a p.i., to find out who his wife, as he suspects, is sleeping with. Clete plays a major part in this book, where we find him going through suicidal and homicidal rages, as indeed Dave does as well.

The tale begins when Dave, a New Iberia sheriff's detective working on his own time after the rape and murder of seven women, all very young, black and poor, visits a penal work gang outside Natchez, Mississippi to interview a man whose young sister is among the victims, and who claims he knows the identity of the killer. When that man is himself murdered, and the body of another young girl is discovered, Dave and Clete decide that since the deaths of young black girls is likely to go uninvestigated if they don't do the investigating themselves, they chart a course which endangers their lives and those of Alafair and Dave's wife, Molly, among others. More killings follow, and motives are obscure at best. And we are told that no matter the jeopardy in which Dave and Clete are placed, as Clete is fond of saying, "the Bobbsey twins from Homicide are forever." Their friendship goes back more than three decades; both men still are haunted by flashbacks from Vietnam; they have both gone from New Orleans patrolmen to detectives, and their loyalty to each other is boundless. Neither is the reader immune to their goodness and charm, and we must profoundly hope that the Bobbsey twins from Homicide do indeed go on forever. Very highly recommended.

Gloria Feit

Reviewer
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Author:Feit, Gloria
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2010
Words:1919
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