Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Little Death and Love Kills

6/6/10 Sometimes, good things do come in small packages. That's the case in two recent paperback mysteries that are highly entertaining.

Each is a solid police procedural crime novel that deals with murder among the very rich, with diligent investigators tracking down a crafty, devious killer.

The Little Death by P.J. Parrish (Pocket Star, $7.99) is the 10th in the best-selling series starring Louis Kincaid, an ex-cop who's now a private eye in southern Florida.

Kincaid gets involved in a tough case when he offers to help his friend Mel Landeta, a former Miami cop who's slowly going blind. Down in ritzy Palm Beach, Reggie Kent, a friend of Landeta's, has been accused of murdering his roommate Mark Durand.

Kent was a high-class "walker" who escorted rich, older women to fancy events. Before his death, Durand had been doing the same. Kincaid and Landeta get little help from one local cop who has an assortment of negative attitudes.

Kincaid gets a ticket for having "an ugly car" and more challenges surface when another headless body is discovered. A powerful female senator may be involved and the pair get additional assistance.

P.J. Parrish is actually the pseudonym of two sisters, Kristi Montee and Kelly Nichols, who were born and raised in Detroit. Their excellent, award-winning novels always feature strong characterization and complicated but believable plots. This one is a real winner.

Love Kills by Dianne Emley (Ballantine, $7.99) is the fourth book in the acclaimed series featuring Pasadena homicide detective Nan Vining, who's the single mother of a teenager.

Vining, who's recovering from an attack by a serial killer, is called into a murder investigation of a wealthy socialite and is astounded that she knew the victim, a friend of her mother's.

More surprises are in store: she discovers that her mother was dating a sleazy celebrity private eye, one of the victims in another bloody double homicide.

An apparent link to the murder cases is Georgia Berryhill, an incredibly rich and charismatic self-help guru to the stars. Quirky characters abound; Vining and her partner/lover Jim Kissick try to piece together clues before the body count rises higher.

This is a nifty, taut, tight police procedural with an unpredictable ending.

Ray Walsh
This article also appeared in the
Lansing State Journal on June 6, 2010

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