Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ray's Reviews: Two Michigan Books! All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco and Lena's Bequest by Paul Ross

If you're still frustrated by the seemingly unending winter and the frigid, freezing temperatures, maybe it's time to warm up with a few new books.

One has scenes in Michigan, Ohio, New York and the Ukraine while the other is set primarily on lovely Mackinac Island. Both feature strong female characters who try to solve deadly puzzles.
"Lena's Bequest" by Bath author Paul Ross (Chandler 3 Press, $14.95) is an entertaining tale that focuses on Yelena (or Lena) Burchak, a young woman originally from Flint.

She's getting ready to go to law school at the University of Michigan, but is living in Ohio when she's approached by an elderly stranger. He says he's got information for her from her late father, Yuri Metrov.

Lena, who never knew her father, isn't really interested. She gets nervous and calls 911, getting unexpected results when the sheriff arrives.

After a meeting with the stranger, Karl Wolenski, she learns more about her father's past in wartime Ukraine. Lena discovers intriguing information about her unusual bequest, an incredibly valuable Faberge egg that was smuggled out of the Ukraine by Yuri.

The action intensifies as a nasty villain emerges; soon Lena's on the run with Karl to New York City.

There are many flashback scenes to Yuri's and Karl's past, including the decimation of their families. The pair barely escape the Ukraine, eventually working for clandestine American government agencies.

Ross has researched his novel well; the action flows smoothly and strong characters abound. His excellent historical and geographical descriptions add a distinctive touch to a remarkable debut novel.

The author is currently working on two other books; his email address is .

"All Fudged Up" by Nancy Coco (Kensington, $7.99) is a tasty paperback introducing Allie McMurphy, owner of the historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop on Mackinac Island.
It opens with McMurphy discovering a dead body in a utility closet at the hotel; more complications soon arise.

There's an unusual cast of possible suspects. McMurphy struggles to get the hotel and fudge shop open, uncovering a devious scheme with deadly implications.

It's light reading with a touch of romance; Coco (the pseudonym of Nancy J. Parra) also includes many delicious fudge recipes for readers who enjoy baking.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

Find these books and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on March 2, 2014.

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