Two recent crime novels will whisk you away to sunny California – a literary land of crime and deceit. Each book features convoluted plotting and exceptionally quirky characters.
"Magician’s Daughter” by Judith Janeway (Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95 hardback, $14.95 paperback) is the first in a highly entertaining new series. It stars Valentine Hill, who's working in Las Vegas, mostly as a street magician.
Valentine is trying to track down her mother, Elizabeth, a skilled con artist, so she can find out more information about herself.
The trail leads to the San Francisco area, where Valentine gets involved in the first of many challenging situations; she’s beaten by a thug and wakes up next to a corpse. And that’s just in the first 20 pages!
There are many interesting characters and unexpected plot twists; Valentine discovers that her mother is involved in another scheme, this time with one of the city’s richest men.
Valentine and her mother are under a lot of scrutiny – when an FBI agent is killed, the action intensifies.
While it would be nice if there were more scenes involving magic, Janeway’s fast-paced tale is compelling reading and is quite enjoyable.
Two more books are scheduled in the series; smart mystery fans will certainly be looking for more. Janeway is also the author of “Odds of Dying” and two romance novels.
“Motive” by best-selling author Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine, $28) is the 30th book in his popular series starring Los Angeles psychologist Alex Delaware.
As usual, he’s called in on a murder case by his friend, LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis.
This time they’re investigating the violent death of Katherine Hennepin, a young woman who was strangled and stabbed in her home. While there’s a viable suspect, he’s got a solid alibi and the case turns cold.
Delaware gets involved in another murder investigation, the killing of a wealthy businesswoman in a parking garage. Sturgis and the psychologist ask many questions and are trying to link the cases.
Sleazy lawyers abound; there are hidden reasons for the deaths as violence flares and potential victims flee for their lives.
This dark twisted tale offers too many characters and too few likable ones. It’s a slower-paced, gritty, grim novel with a devious killer and an unpredictable ending.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
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at the Curious Book Shop, an independent
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.
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This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on February 22, 2015.