Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 9)


By RJ Parker

I really enjoyed this read. Although I’ve read about all of the cases profiled, the way RJ lays them out makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s beyond me how a parent could perform such a heinous act on their own flesh and blood.

The book opens with a definition of filicide and the possible causes then segues into the first of ten cases highlighted in the book. What strikes me, and I’m sure all readers will notice, is that statistically speaking, more often than not, the child’s mother is the one who commits the murder; in fact, only two instances of father’s committing filicide are included in the book.

Although the highly publicized crimes of Darlie Routier and Andrea Yates are beyond comprehension, the particularly gruesome crime committed by Susan Eubanks is the one that haunts me. Eubanks systematically shot each of her four children point blank in the head, starting with her fifteen-year-old son Brandon, then her other three sons aged seven, six, and four, while the others watched in horror waiting for their turns. I can’t begin to imagine what was going through the boys’ minds. Her daughter and nephew both survived that attack and will no doubt spend the rest of their lives scarred by the experience.

Throughout the book, RJ interjects his thoughts and opinions on society’s view, about mother’s pointing out that society on a whole considers mothers to be the primary caregiver and nurturer. Each of the cases are briefly touched upon and in my opinion, it would have been a more compelling read if the cases were explored a little further, perhaps introducing aspects of the case not previously published. It also would have been nice to have a few current cases included.

All in all, “Parents Who Kill Their Children” is a great read for aficionados of true crime. If you are, take the time to look up one of RJ’s fourteen other true crime books.

Reviewed by Jodi Ann Chapters ( ■



By Dean Koontz

Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk, is the character’s name, and it flows as beautifully off the tongue as this incredible story does inside the mind. It’s a tale that hits the soul and proves that if you own passion for life and the particular place you are living in, that place will return your passion tenfold by providing you with all the color, vibrancy, and people you need to make your life an amazing one.

Jonah’s telling his story into a recorder for his friend Malcolm; an oral history, if you will, that brings to light everything from mystery to music that sparked his boyhood talent and imagination.

It’s 1967, and Jonah has moved into grandpa’s house with his mom. Creativity runs in this family: grandpa is a piano man, and mom was a singer. Grandpa has a piano in the home and keeps music alive by playing for fun every day. Mom, however, no longer sings. Something happened in her youth that changed the course of her future, and made her far more cynical than she originally was. She works hard, pressing morals and values into her son, teaching him to never be half-a-man.

Jonah grows and explores his abilities and talents, yet the city is difficult, especially when danger crosses his path. This artistic soul must fight malice, anger, and envy, at times, in order to follow his mother’s direction and become the good man she wants him to be.

Koontz is a name generally linked to the genres of horror or fantasy. His supernatural capabilities are beloved by fans when it comes to the Odd Thomas series. But with this tale, it’s almost like the reader is spending a moment in the sun. Even when the dark clouds come around, hearing Jonah’s tale is like a dream, where nothing bad will happen as long as ‘the city’ is on his side.

This is one that will never be forgotten. Bravo!

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, Author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Judy Alter

Starting with one of the best opening paragraphs in recent memory, “The Perfect Coed” by Judy Alter takes off, and doesn’t let up through the course of the book.

The central character in this academic cozy is Susan Hogan, professor of English Lit, and expert on western writer Zane Grey, at a small liberal arts college in the Texas hinterlands. She leads the normal life of an unmarried, professional woman warily approaching middle age, except for a penchant for landing in middle of trouble. Fortunately for Susan, she also has a talent for solving mysteries.

Neither of those traits is endearing to Jake Philips, the tall and handsome Chief of the Campus Police, though he feels her other charms make up for them, barely. Susan and Jack have been a couple just long enough to start to wonder where things are going.

Susan hasn’t much time to dwell on relationships when a pretty coed is murdered, and Susan is strangely implicated, though she hasn’t a clue why. That she needs to find out, and find out fast, is made frighteningly clear when she is attacked while zipping home on her scooter late at night.

Aunt Jenny, Susan’s closest relative, arrives for a stay and brings her vinegar wit and salty tongue with her. With her help, Susan sets out to uncover the killer. Suspects abound, menace is everywhere, yet through it all, Susan must pay attention to what passes for real life: classes, papers, and jealous and conniving professorial colleagues.

Not one to duck a challenge, Susan takes it all on, risking life and limb chasing the killer, driving poor Jack crazy with worry, and through it all, letting readers know there’s a new detective in town, and her name is Susan Hogan, Professor of English Lit.

Reviewed by Andrew MacRae, author of “Murder Miscalculated” ■



By Sophie Loubiere

Madame Preau has spent several years living in a convalescent home, and is now beyond happy that she is able to return to her home located just outside of Paris. But as with all time spent away, when she arrives back, she notes that there have been many changes made to the neighborhood. Where there used to be a lovely garden next door, there is now a brand new house. It is not the sight of the house that’s disturbing, it is the slightly uncomfortable fact that she can literally look directly into the neighbors’ windows, if she so wishes.

The new neighbors have two children who play in the yard most of the time when they are not in school. But there is another young boy that looks ill, and he spends his time tossing stones at Madame Preau’s window in order to get her attention. But what begins as only a slightly odd situation becomes a serious issue when the family in the house looks at her strangely and tells Madame Preau that no other boy exists in the household, and that she’s hallucinating.

To make up for her increasing feeling of loneliness, Madame spies on the two children at play, continuing to state that there are three, not two, even though the parents continue to deny that this ‘stone-throwing’ boy exists. Madame Preau offers piano lessons to the daughter in order to grill her for more information. She will stop at nothing to prove she’s not the requisite ‘crazy old lady,’ and even calls children’s services, and asks at the school where she used to teach—both of which cannot find any record of another child.

Madame Preau is a perfect protagonist; not willing to give up without a fight, she becomes determined to save this supposedly non-existent boy from harm. And the readers will be more than surprised when the question of ‘real’ or ‘figment of the imagination’ is solved.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion



By Wendy Corsi Staub

Another awesome Staub story that goes above and beyond the suspense/creepy factor!

Readers begin by meeting Meredith Heywood, a breast cancer survivor. A nice lady who keeps her strength and courage; she’s created a blog that will, hopefully, give other women a place to go where they can feel better and relate to someone who has gone through the same pain.

Some of these ladies become very fast friends, even though they’ve never met each other face-to-face. These new buddies are Landry Wells, Elena, Kay, and Jaycee. They, with the help of the internet, have become very close. At this time in their lives, discovering people who have been afflicted with the same medical condition and have lived to talk about it is a great consolation.

Sadly, Meredith is murdered! The murder scene, according to authorities, looks staged, and the police are not able to figure out if this was a random killing or a far more personal one. A bit later, the online group finally meet when they attend Meredith’s funeral. And when they come together, they want nothing more than to solve the crime that the police don’t seem to have any leads on or know where they should go next.

Landry suspects that Meredith’s death was not a random act and the killer might be hiding behind a screen name. She also thinks this someone might have hacked into their conversations, and either had something to prove, or vengeance to unleash.

Although the calamity and trauma that can come from the online world is not a new topic, this plot is extremely interesting because of the intelligence and sheer grit of the characters involved. With a motive and a killer that is unveiled over time, this fantastic wordsmith makes sure the story never stops for even a second, and that the creepiness factor never goes away. It’s not a surprise when Staub writes a truly unforgettable thriller, and her fans will definitely not be disappointed with this one!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion



By Gregory Harris

This is a terrific story featuring Detective Colin Pendragon, and his partner, Ethan Pruitt. Set in jolly old England, readers are presented with two very different cases in this Victorian mystery that will keep them on their toes until the very end.

Captain Trevor Bellingham is a member of the Queen’s Life Guard. In a tragic occurrence, he and his wife are killed in their home. The authorities watching out for the Guard would like nothing more than for Pendragon and Pruitt to solve the crime as fast as possible. Or…perhaps there is a cover-up in the works that will keep the truth away from public eyes.

When Colin and Ethan return home, there is a lady waiting for them. Lady Nesbitt-Normand is absolutely beside herself because her prize-winning dog has been kidnapped. Lady Priscilla Elizabeth Windsor Hanover Nesbitt-Normand, is the name of the poor pedigree canine, and even though the detectives have a murder case on their hands, they still agree to do all they can to find the missing pup. Colin is absolutely sure he can solve the Guard’s case in three days and, if he can’t, he’ll simply turn the reins over to other authorities. But in the middle of trying to fulfill his promise, he is literally stopped in his tracks at every turn by Scotland Yard, and Inspector Varcoe. The duo must delve deeper in order to solve the Guard’s homicide, and as they uncover secrets, the pressure mounts to find a very real killer who’s on the loose.

Both storylines come together in perfect symmetry, making for an incredibly pleasing mystery. Colin and Ethan have the ‘spark’ of Holmes and Watson, but Sherlock wasn’t quite the charmer (unless we’re speaking of the movies with Robert Downey, Jr., of course). The author nails it yet again!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion



By Jeffrey Deaver

This is the latest book by number one NY Times bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver. While this book is not a sequel to “The Bone Collector,” it does bring the reader back to a time when Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Donaghy first met and were chasing a killer who makes his killings very personal against Lincoln.

Deaver does a masterful job taking the reader on an emotional ride and how this new killer is stirring up old memories of Richard Thompson (The Bone Collector). “The Skin Collector,” who is killing his victims by tattooing them with a lethal poison, leaves clues within the art work; Lincoln is trying to come to terms with his own demons and being haunted by a killer called “The Watchmaker” (“The Cold Moon”), who just died in prison.

It is not an easy thing for an author that has had so much success to continue to raise the bar with their writing, but “The Skin Collector” is Deaver’s best book to date. Fans won’t be able to put the book down once they pick it up. If Deaver’s goal was to deprive readers of sleep, he did that and so much more.

Reviewed by John Raab ■



By Rosie Genova

Mystery writer Victoria Rienzi is in the soup. Literally. Victoria comes back to her Jersey shore roots to write a new book and learn the ins and outs of Casa Lido, her family’s restaurant business. Her nonna (that’s grandmother for all you non-Italians) rules the restaurant with a cast-iron hand, right down to dictating that exactly five tiny handmade meatballs go into each serving of the restaurant’s famous wedding soup.

When the restaurant is hired to provide the soup for a huge wedding at a swishy local beach club, it means Victoria must make 1,000 meatballs and also serve the soup at the wedding. The father of the bride, Dr. Chickie, is a close family friend and local orthodontist, who was responsible for straightening many local kids’ teeth—including Victoria’s—so Victoria wants everything to go perfectly. The wedding itself comes off without a hitch, despite dueling head chefs and a tense encounter between Dr. Chickie and the beach club president.

When the body of the club president is found on the beach below a high seawall, and Dr. Chickie is the prime suspect, Victoria’s family begs her to help him. After all, she writes mysteries, so she should be able to solve this one and clear Chickie, right? With the help of her sister-in-law Sofia, and the reluctant help of her nonna, Victoria discovers some old secrets that just may put her in the soup for good.

“The Wedding Soup Murder” is the second in Rosie Genova’s delightful Italian Kitchen Mystery series. I love the characters and the atmosphere, and the plot has more twists in it than a bowl of rotini. Yummy fun!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Jeremy Robinson & Sean Ellis

“Savage” starts off with simple questions. What really happened when Stanley found Livingstone? What was Livingstone doing during all the time that he was ‘lost’?

In this latest Chess Team adventure, the team is back, but I would be hard pressed to say they are organized. King, fresh off his 3,000 year adventure, isn’t sure how to relate to his friends and teammates. He is distant and aloof. The others are not sure what to make of their leader who traveled and lived thousands of years B.C. in the mere blink of an eye. All personal issues are placed on the back burner when they get a call asking for their help in rescuing the kidnapped president of the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. They are needed to rescue the president and help stabilize the region. King agrees and his team follows.

What follows in “Savage” is much more than a political thriller. Robinson and Ellis have combined technology, archeology, and even a little microbiology with the question they ask better than any other authors today: what if? What if the team gets split up in three parts and has no idea where the other members are? What if science got it all wrong and ‘ancients’ still inhabit the earth? And what if Livingston’s discoveries would have altered science and political balance in the eyes of the world?

“Savage” will take you deep into and under the Congo, and even deeper into your mind and imagination. It has an ending that will leave you gasping for air, and the only thing you may have left to breathe is carbon dioxide. “Savage” takes the Chess Team to new heights and will leave you thinking: what if?

Reviewed by JM LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine



By Peter Robinson

Inspector Banks is back! And the slew of fans, as well as the lover of the English mystery, will be thrilled with this author’s latest.

To begin, a former college lecturer by the name of Gavin Miller, is discovered on a path underneath a railroad bridge in the English countryside. Right off the bat, it is difficult to find a motive for the crime, but they immediately rule out robbery seeing as that the man still holds £5,000 in his pocket, undisturbed.

Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, is heading up the investigation; an investigation that leads into a very snooty world where he and his team end up questioning some very rich and powerful folks, who are definitely not happy about his intrusion into their society. As the case remains up in the air, trying to find out exactly how the victim died—still unsure whether murder is actually the cause—the policemen must dig deeper and deeper into the dead man’s life, as well as his associates. The oddest part to Banks is the fact that a man like the victim—a man who had been disgraced at his job—would be the owner of a pile of money.

Told to back off because he and the police are pressured by the rich and famous, Banks stays himself and refuses to go anywhere until the crime is solved. His cohorts, detectives’ Cabbot and Winsome, are all very bright, with just the right amount of attitude to plough forward and get the answers with Banks despite any roadblocks that may appear.

Moving along quite quickly, this author is once again impressive with his storytelling, and the plot is a whole lot of fun. Banks is very likeable, along with his fellow detectives, and readers are always hoping he hangs around for a good, long time to come.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion


Be the first to comment on "Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (September issue part 9)"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.