Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Susan Meissner's Widows and Orphans ~ Reviewed

Widows and Orphans
By Susan Meissner
Published by Harvest House Publishers
ISBN-10: 0736919147

At first, attorney Rachel Flynn isn't too upset with her mother's phone call. After all, this isn't the first time she's called Rachel regarding her younger brother, Joshua. He has dedicated his life to helping those in need, particularly widows and orphans. Arrest records in four Minnesota counties proves he won't hesitate to break the law to right a perceived wrong.

But when her mother chokes out that he's confessed to murder, Rachel's world tilts on its axis. She leaves Manhattan with Trace, her illustrator husband, and their baby daughter, McKenna, to return home to St. Paul, Minnesota. Deep down, Rachel knows there's no way Joshua has committed the crime he's confessed to. But he refuses to change his plea or to let Rachel represent him. Convinced Josh is taking the fall for someone else, she decides to investigate the case on her own.

She has a reluctant ally in the lead investigator, Sgt. Will Pendleton. He has his own doubts about Joshua's story, but he can't ignore Josh's confession. Sgt. Pendleton gets permission for Rachel to read the reports and visit the crime scene. As she walks around the damp basement of the Hmong grocery, she realizes the crime couldn't have happened the way Josh said. But critical pieces of evidence are also missing, and it turns into a race against time to prevent her brother from making a terrible mistake.

She enlists the help of Trace and several of his artist friends. Their sketches, based on her descriptions, move her further along in her investigation. But gaps remain. Fig, her husband's eccentric friend (and one of the best characters in the book) draws another sketch, which makes no sense to anyone involved, but may hold the key to what really happened in the basement.

Widows and Orphans is the first book in the Rachel Flynn mysteries. Susan Meissner has crafted a novel of unique characters and a plot that isn't easy to figure out. The ending is a twist, but fits in with the plot and the actions of the characters.

Cheryl Russell

Monday, January 29, 2007

Michael Palmer ~ The Fifth Vial

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

(February 20, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0312343515

ISBN-13: 978-0312343514

Book Description:

"From the blockbuster, eleven-time New York Times bestselling author comes a novel of medical suspense that begins with these chilling questions: Who ends up with the blood samples you routinely give for tests? What else are they being used for? Why don’t you know?

Take a Deep Breath. . . .In Boston, a disgraced medical student is sent to deliver a research paper that could save her career. . . . Four thousand miles away, in a jungle hospital in Cameroon, a brilliant, reclusive scientist, dying from an incurable disease that threatens to make each tortured breath his last, is on the verge of perfecting a serum that could save millions of lives, and bring others inestimable wealth. . . . In Chicago, a disillusioned private detective, on the way to his third career, is hired to determine the identify of a John Doe, killed on a Florida highway, with mysterious marks on his body.

Three seemingly disconnected lives, surging unrelentingly toward one another.

Three lives becoming irrevocably intertwined. Three lives in mounting peril, moving ever closer to the ultimate confrontation against a deadly secret society with godlike aspirations and roots in antiquity.

Medical student. Scientist. Private eye. Three people who will learn the deeper meanings of brilliance and madness, truth and deception, trust and betrayal. Three lives linked forever by a single vial of blood—the fifthBook Description
From the blockbuster, eleven-time New York Times bestselling author comes a novel of medical suspense that begins with these chilling questions: Who ends up with the blood samples you routinely give for tests? What else are they being used for? Why don’t you know?

Take a Deep Breath. . . .In Boston, a disgraced medical student is sent to deliver a research paper that could save her career. . . . Four thousand miles away, in a jungle hospital in Cameroon, a brilliant, reclusive scientist, dying from an incurable disease that threatens to make each tortured breath his last, is on the verge of perfecting a serum that could save millions of lives, and bring others inestimable wealth. . . . In Chicago, a disillusioned private detective, on the way to his third career, is hired to determine the identify of a John Doe, killed on a Florida highway, with mysterious marks on his body.

Three seemingly disconnected lives, surging unrelentingly toward one another. Three lives becoming irrevocably intertwined. Three lives in mounting peril, moving ever closer to the ultimate confrontation against a deadly secret society with godlike aspirations and roots in antiquity. Medical student. Scientist. Private eye. Three people who will learn the deeper meanings of brilliance and madness, truth and deception, trust and betrayal. Three lives linked forever by a single vial of blood—the fifth vial. vial."

Reviewed by Gina Holmes

Michael Palmer addresses the bio-ethical issue of organ trafficking in his fast-paced medical thriller, The Fifth Vial.

Around the globe, people are unsuspectingly having their blood tested in a life and death lottery. If their number is picked, (ie. if they are a tissue match), elitists decide who is more worthy to have their beating heart, them, or the wealthy, influential patient who needs the transplant to live.

Three seemingly unrelated lives,(a medical student, a research physician and a private eye), intermingle in unexpected ways. All three are pushed to the limit of human endurance, as each must answer the call of their conscious, putting their lives on the line to stop an evil which leaves orphans and widows in its gluttonous and infinite wake.

This novel was fast-paced, contained fleshed-out characters, and an intriguing plot that had me on the edge of my seat until the exciting conclusion.

Mr. Palmer not only told a great story, but addresses the bio-ethical issue of organ trafficking, asking the hard questions of: Is one person more worthy to live than another? Who decides?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Susan May Warren's Reclaiming Nick ~ Reviewed

Reclaiming Nick
By, Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale House
ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-1017-6

Nick Noble hadn’t planned on being the prodigal son. But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle—the Noble family ranch—to Nick’s former best friend, he must return home to face those he left behind. And to make sure that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family.

Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she first anticipated. So does resisting his charming smile.

As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will—and Piper digs for answers—family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone who wants to see the Silver Buckle leave Noble hands, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen, even if it means taking a life.”

Susan May Warren roped me in with the first chapter of this fun and heart-warming page-turner. She achieved what every author hopes to achieve- made this reader both laugh and cry. And the suspenseful story that kept me guessing made my heart beat harder than the hooves of stampeding cattle.

Reading Reclaiming Nick was like taking a vacation. Ms. Warren’s extensive research on ranch life and all things cowboy resulted in a very authentic read. So much so that I could almost hear the horse’s whinnies and cattle lowing, see the rolling pastures and majestic mountains, and smell the barbeque, sweat, and manure.

The characters were real and deep, so that I felt their hurts and frustrations, sympathized with their hopes and longings, and laughed at their antics. Ms. Warren made me care about them enough to fear for their safety and sincerely hope for a good outcome. My journey through Reclaiming Nick was a wild ride that lead to a satisfying end. I look forward to reading Taming Rafe, the next book in the Noble Legacy series.

Learn more about author Susan May Warren and Reclaiming Nick

Reviewed by Janet Rubin

Monday, January 22, 2007

Dee Henderson's Before I Wake ~ Reviewed

Before I Wake
by Dee Henderson
Published by Tyndale House
ISBN-10: 1414308159

The sheriff of Justice, Illinois, is hunting a killer. Women visiting town are being murdered, tourists in nice hotels, money still in their billfolds, jewelry still on the dresser. Quiet kills - they go to sleep and never awaken. The sheriff is not pleased to find the new detective in town, Rae Gabriella, working the case on behalf of one of the families. She's staying in the same hotel as one of the victims - and her classy looks and upscale car suggest she could be the next victim.

Dee Henderson books have always excelled in several areas. First, her character dialogue moves well. Second, she's great with the whole: protective male rescues (and rescues, and re-rescues) smart but vulnerable female plot line.

This book is very different.

For one thing, Before I Wake has about ten times the layering, twists, and density of her past stories. Henderson does a great job making us wonder 'whodunit' with this book, and offers some intriguing glimpses into the lives of coroners, crime-scene clean-up crews, private detectives, and designer drug "cooks".

The book surprises with an unexpected twist toward the end, and it presents real character struggles with God, faith, and life in an un-canned, un-preachy way.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that what first seems like a slow build in the character dynamics department becomes fizzling potential that never ignites.

Henderson's characters--Nathan, Rae, and Bruce--never seem to progress at all in their relationships. Everything's great and platonic, there's no jealousy, Rae likes them both just as well. The men are both perfect Christian gentlemen. No fire. No sparks. No conflict.

I found myself disgusted with Rae (never a good emotion to feel about a heroine). She dates both men, knowing that these men are good friends with each other, and that they're both interested in her. She's never even honest with herself about what she's doing with their emotions. Tacky.

I was equally frustrated when, by the end of the book, very few of the major plot points had been resolved. If this is a series, then I applaud the cliffhanger, but want to know WHY the book was not marketed as a series, either in print or on Henderson's web site.

If this is not a series then I don't know what to think. There is precious little satisfaction or closure by the last page. The bad guy is still at large, the romantic triangle (if you can even call it that) is not resolved, and we've just read through 381 pages with very little payoff.

Other issues include an infestation of speaker attributions--on many pages characters address each other by name every other line--a number of spelling/grammar errors, and, other than the front cover image and a brief description of Rae's eyes, no real idea what any of the major characters look like. Readers will also note that Rae's eyes are a different color in the book than on the book's cover.

Despite all this, Henderson does a great job making the town of Justice come alive through the story. And the characters have potential. Especially the grandfather who barrels through Justice in his fancy sports car, no matter how many tickets he receives. Now that's an interesting character.

So although the book is a mixed bag, I believe Dee Henderson fans will still find a lot to enjoy.

As for me? I'm waiting for a sequel. One that will answer all that's unresolved and send Nathan and Bruce real women who will wake them up.

Reviewed by Kelli Standish

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Diann Hunt's Hot Tropics and Cold Feet ~ Reviewed

Hot Tropics and Cold Feet
By Diann Hunt
Published by WestBow
ISBN-10: 1-59554-193-4

When the going gets tough, the tough hit the beach.

After years of being single, Lily's about to head down the aisle again. But just as she's about to take the plunge, she gets cold feet—ice cold.

To calm her pre-wedding jitters, Lily and her girlfriends take off on a getaway to Siesta Key, Florida. Harkening back to younger days, they stalk Donny Osmond, get tattoos (henna!), and turn the heads of the local studs. But not far from any of their minds are the challenges of midlife: grown children coming home to roost, husbands in midlife crisis mode, and – could it be?—a first-time pregnancy at forty-five?

The "girls" all have their baggage in tow, but the salty air and laughing with friends is just what the doctor ordered—if they can weather the hot flashes until the wedding bells ring!

Diann Hunt keeps getting better and better. I chuckled through Hot Flash and Cold Cream, RV There Yet? held side-splitting moments, but Hot Tropics and Cold Feet has topped them both! I howled with laughter.

When Maggie, Lily, Jill and Louise hit the beach, things start happening. With antics like escaping a resident alligator, parasailing, and rescuing baby sea turtles, you'll laugh your way through this book. I had a hard time putting it down. Part of me wanted to keep turning pages, while the other part told me if I didn't stop soon, I'd turn the last one. And I didn't want it to end. I was having too good of a time with the "girls." But willpower lost the battle and I read it in two sittings. Well I had to get SOME sleep.

Any woman with a group of close girlfriends will see herself in this bunch. What I didn't expect were the tears Hunt elicited from me, when Lily's new husband is moving her away from Charming, Indiana—and Maggie. I've moved away from close girlfriends before, and it brought back sweet memories of long-standing friendships.

From health-nut Jill, wrinkle-free Louise, indecisive Lily to hot-flashing Maggie, these characters truly will leap off the page and into your hearts. Well, maybe leap is too strong a word. Jog? No, not Maggie—too much like exercise. Well, anyway, you know what I mean. You'll love them.

Hot Tropics and Cold Feet receives Novel Reviews top recommendation- a 5 and goes into the line-up for my pick as book of the year for 2007. This one will be hard for anyone else to beat.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tracey Bateman's I Love Claire ~ Reviewed

I Love Claire
By Tracey Bateman
Published by Faith Words
ISBN 10: 0-446-69607-2

Lovable and quirky Claire Everett finally snagged a man, but how will she pay for the wedding gown when her writing career hits a snag of its own? She was busy enough as a novelist and mother of four, but after Claire finds the wedding dress of her dreams, complete with a nightmarish price tag, she kicks into overdrive to find a way to afford the heavenly gown. Suddenly she becomes Claire Everett: Entrepreneur. Assistant to the elderly. Dog-walker extraordinaire.

She soon discovers that walking dogs and doing odd jobs are a piece of cake compared to fending off the advances of her client's drop-dead gorgeous son and dealing with her kids antics. Claire needs God's help is she's ever going to straighten out her tangled life. And when her magical honeymoon plans crumble into dust, she has to wonder what disaster lies in store for the Big Day.

If you liked Leave it to Claire and Claire Knows Best, you're going to love I Love Claire. I started chuckling on page one and snickered all the way through to the end. But this lighthearted look at relationships will have you reexamining your own. There's meat on the bones of this novel—spiritual food for thought. It's just hidden in the package of a rollicking good read.

With characters that grab you by the hand and pull you into their world, I Love Claire will leave you wanting more.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sharlene MacLaren's Loving Liza Jane ~ Reviewed

Loving Liza Jane
By Sharlene MacLaren
Published by Whitaker House, April 2007
ISBN: 978-0-88368-816-8

When Liza Jane Merriwether rode into the town of Little Hickman Creek, her first thought was, Oh, Lord, what have I done? Kentucky was much difference than what she was used to back East, but she knew God had led her here for a reason.

Soon, the new schoolteacher is beloved by all … including Benjamin Broughton, a handsome widower with two young children. Despite his protectiveness and the fact that Ben has rescued Liza from several scrapes, her contract implicitly states that she is to have "no improper contact with the opposite sex."

Liza has a lot to learn about God and His plan for her life. She just may find that with God, all things are possible.

One of the things I liked about Loving Liza Jane was that MacLaren took a different path—one unlike formula romance. Benjamin is one of the most believable heroes I've read in a historical romance, and Liza's stubbornness is actually endearing instead of irritating. Ben's young daughter Lili didn't have mannerisms or a vocabulary beyond her years.

And just when I thought I knew where the story was headed, MacLaren surprised me. I love to be surprised in a book. I won't spoil the ending by telling it, but the love triangle within this book is unique and very well done. I enjoyed the light humor MacLaren employs.

I did find some similarity in names, making the story slightly confusing in places. One other small fact stood out to me and that was naming the brothel owner Mrs. Guttersnipe. I felt it melodramatic to use the description as a name. However, it wasn't enough of a distraction to make me put the book down.

Loving Liza Jane is MacLaren's second book. Novel Reviews will be watching with great interest, for future books from her.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan


Saturday, January 13, 2007

C.L. Kelly's Scent ~ Reviewed

By C.L. Kelly
Published by Zondervan
ISBN: 0310262992

We’re off to a running start in the opening pages of Scent. Perfumer Mark Dixon is alone in a New Guinea rain forest, tantalizingly close to the discovery of a lifetime—an orchid whose scent is so bewitching that local natives consider it sacred. Back home, his wife Cassie is fighting her way through a jungle, too—the corporate one. Their company, Azure World, is on the point of collapse, and their rivals are moving in for the kill. Mark and Cassie’s financial survival depends on Mark finding this new fragrance.

In its early pages, the book switches between Mark’s adventures in the rain forest and Cassie’s attempts to keep their struggling company away from the wolves. Layer after layer of complications arise on both sides of the globe. Mark finds the orchid, but fights injury, animals, and natives to get away with the scent. Back home, the head of a rival company—and Mark’s old flame—attempts a hostile takeover of Azure World. Someone’s sabotaging their product, and an armed intruder threatens Cassie and her daughter at home. All connected? Cassie suspects so, but how—and why?

Finally, Mark arrives home with the new fragrance, and it’s everything they had hoped. Soon they’re on top of the world, with the money and accolades rolling in. But the problems are just beginning. It appears the mysterious scent is every bit as powerful as the worshipful natives thought—and not in a benevolent way. And someone is still stalking Mark and Cassie, still plotting against them.

Scent is a real page-turner. Kelly uses a number of methods to build suspense. Sometimes the author keeps the reader in the dark, filling the story with twists and turns and unexpected revelations. But he lets us see the fatal flaw in the new fragrance long before the characters. Using numerous points of view, he creates a range of intriguing characters and shows their horrifying encounters with the perfume. We know Mark and Cassie are in for a huge fall even as they are blissfully unaware. But so much is happening in the story, we wonder just where and how the disaster will come.

The spiritual angle of Scent is handled skillfully. Mark and Cassie’s pursuit of success pushes God out of their lives, and they seem to have little need for him when they’re at their peak. Will they realize their need before they fall? The message is obvious but is handled subtly and with compassion. A minister with a fondness for gaudy clothing and bad jokes makes a gentle messenger.

My one quibble with Scent is that it pushed the bounds of believability on a couple of occasions. At the beginning of the story, Mark is only in the rain forest for a few days, but Cassie first decides to go ahead and start an advertising blitz for their new fragrance—when she doesn’t even know whether he’s found the flower. A couple of days later, she’s discouraged and starts proceedings to sell the company to their rival. I couldn’t imagine a legitimate businessperson—with a co-director who is also her spouse—behaving in such a manner. On the other hand, I continued turning the pages, wondering if Mark would make it home before Cassie did something outrageous. So if you can suspend your disbelief, you’re in for an enjoyable, fast-paced read.

Reviewed by Robin Johns Grant

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Diann Mills' Lanterns and Lace ~ Reviewed

Lanterns and Lace
By Diann Mills
Published by Barbour books
ISBN 1-59789-356-0

When Jenny Martin steps off the train in Kahlerville, Texas she didn’t realize her entire life would change. Her sister, Jessica, had taken to a lifestyle inappropriate for young blueblood women, resulting in the birth of a baby girl and taking her own life during the process. Jessica leaves the care of her newborn to Dr. Grant Andrews, who accepts the challenge as a gift and adopts the infant child naming her Rebecca.

A stubborn and unhappy Jenny Martin has traveled from Cleveland in search of the toddler in order to return her to her rightful place with Jessica’s family. Feisty and determined to find the child, Jenny hopes her return will win her the long denied approval of her parents.

Dr. Andrews knew the moment he laid eyes on Jenny that he loved her, and it didn’t take long for the two to develop a bittersweet relationship. Grant held the legal adoption papers of Jessica’s child, but his heart held the key to changing a non-believer Jenny into a God fearing woman.

Aubrey Turner, a past beau of Jenny’s sister, follows Jenny to Kahlerville instilling lies throughout the town that he and Jenny were traveling companions. His obsession with her and Rebecca lead to a suspense filled plot that keeps the reader yearning for more.

Though Grant and Jenny butt heads on more than one occasion, Grant decides the best way to get to the bottom of her true intentions is to treat her with kindness. Raised in a home where religion was disallowed, Jenny soon learns the Christian family Grant was raised in offers something she longs for.

Diann Mills weaves a tender romance in this second of a series in the Texas Legacy set. She has once again crafted two well developed protagonists and a host of supporting characters that bring this deadly suspense filled story to a close. She leaves you guessing what turn will come next. In this four star “must-read,” Diann Mills has done it again.

Reviewed by Cindy Sproles

Monday, January 08, 2007

Brandt Dodson's Seventy Times Seven ~ Reviewed

Seventy Times Seven
by Brandt Dodson
Published by Harvest House Publishers
ISBN-10: 0736918108

Fired by the FBI, former agent Colton Parker becomes a private investigator to earn an income. This widower also struggles to be a good dad to his teenage daughter, Callie. Her grief over her mother's death has driven her to attempt suicide once, and he's afraid she'll try again, soon. But bills must still be paid and finding the time Callie needs is difficult with his PI job. At least, he can use the skills he'd learned working for the FBI.

His latest client is social outcast Lester Cheek, "Cheek the Geek" to his high school classmates thirty some years ago. But Lester has done well, very well for himself. He made his fortune building a chain of pottery stores across the Midwest. But he didn't find true happiness until he married Claudia five years ago. Now she is missing and Lester is desperate to find out what's happened to the only thing that ever mattered in his life. He hires Colton when the Indianapolis police can't find her. They assume she's run off with someone else.

Colton thinks the same things. In the days before her disappearance, Claudia pulled out large sums of money from various ATMs and purchased a travel voucher at one of the local travel agencies. People he interviews have nothing but praise for Claudia Cheek and all of her charity work. People aren't so generous with her husband; Colton discovers the mild-mannered Lester is anything but in the business world. On his climb to the top, he's accumulated a list of enemies.

But Colton's lean toward a runaway wife evaporates when her bloody car is discovered abandoned along a highway. What started as a missing spouse investigation quickly escalates into a case of murder and betrayal, with Colton caught in the murderer's crosshairs.

Seventy Times Seven is the second Colton Parker Mystery. Written in first person, author Brandt Dodson brings his main character to life through the tight, snappy dialogue and fast-paced action. Well-worth reading.

Reviewed by Cheryl Russell

Friday, January 05, 2007

Phil Little's Hell in a Briefcase ~ Reviewed

Hell in a Briefcase
by Phil Little with Brad Whittington
B&H Publishing Group
ISBN-10: 0805440801

Matt Cooper is a true international man of mystery. A private security executive, his adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas flights, Hollywood parties with a live-in actress girlfriend, and direct calls from top CIA brass. But the jet-set lifestyle hardly matters once Matt meets Mr. Roberts, an old broken-down millionaire, an uncommon Christian who coaxes Cooper into traveling with him to Israel. Through the strange man's incredible connections, Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism, witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war.

When I first received this book in the mail and read the title I thought, "What kind of story is this?" Honestly, the title didn't appeal to me, but the front cover was interesting and so was the description on the back. So I started to read. The first chapter had a lot of narration, which usually makes a book boring, but it seemed necessary to the setting and to get you into the mind frame of the story itself. It must've been effective because I found myself wanting to plow through this book from beginning to end. That's a good sign for me because #1, I normally don't read thrillers, and #2, I read SO many books that for it to grab me by the throat it has to be compelling. Hell in a Briefcase was compelling indeed.

With pulse-racing countdown to find the nukes before they detonated, continual intrigue, cliff-hanger plot points, a mysterious mole, and adventure up the wazoo, this story was worthwhile reading for me. What a great ride! One of the best points, IMHO, was the fact that I didn't figure out who the proverbial bad guy was until the end when the person was revealed. Talk about well-done red herrings. This is a perfect example of that technique.

I found the spiritual arc to be very effective and frankly, if there had been no arc, it would've taken away from the story, in my opinion. In this story not everyone "finds Jesus" because that isn't the real world, but the defenses people erected against Christians were very realistically portrayed. One particular person's influence was dramatic enough to capture the attention of the unsaved long enough to have them wonder if what she had was truly real. That's a great illustration of living out your faith, but the character did it in baby steps, like new Christians do. I can't wait for the next book in this series, because there are some very well-done loose ends that could lead into another book, yet I still feel satisfied at the end of this one.

Michelle Sutton
writer/book reviewer

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sharon Dunn's Death of a Garage Sale Newbie ~ Reviewed

Death of a Garage Sale Newbie
By Sharon Dunn
Published by Multnomah (March 20, 2007)
ISBN 10: 1590526899

Since when do three women, bonded together by the need to clip coupons and be first in line at door buster sales, solve crimes? Since the fourth member of the Bargain Hunters Network was found dead. When they suspect Mary Margret's murder was prompted by something she purchased at a garage sale the morning of her death, the three amateur sleuths begin to investigate. Suzanne is a mother of three with another on the way. Kindra is a college student with a taste for designer clothes but not the budget. And Ginger is an active baby boomer whose world is filled with scouting the clearance racks, church activities, and helping her retired husband, Earl, test his inventions. Their discoveries take them back twenty years to a dark and buried secret...one perhaps better left there.

Murderous markdowns are the premise of this rummage sale romp. Author Sharon Dunn creates warm, believable characters in an easy to read mystery about a group of garage saling moms turned sleuths when one of their number is mysteriously murdered. Added to that, local police aren’t talking about the strange events surrounding the case, forcing heroine Ginger Salinski out of her comfort zone and into a role she never expected: crime solver extraordinaire.

In the midst of unraveling her friend’s death and the odd clues she left behind, Ginger realizes that her longtime marriage to a tinkering inventor is in mess. All of this adds up to more trouble than poor Ginger bargained for, but makes for a very entertaining story, despite the unfortunate instances where the main character’s neurosis about spending full price teeter on the campy.

Thanks to the humor interspersed throughout, I was able to overlook the minor plot flaws that kept this book from being top notch. There are no surprising revelations, no unforeseen plot twists to elevate this novel from good to stellar, but the writing shines and the author’s easy style makes this book is a very comfortable read, perfect for a rainy afternoon curled up on the couch with a cup of hot tea.

Review by Elizabeth Ludwig

The Stones Cry Out ~ Sibella Giorello

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Revell (January 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800731603

Book Description:

" Moments after FBI agent Raleigh Harmon arrives at a large rally on Richmond, Virginia's Southside neighborhood, two men plummet from a factory rooftop and lie dead on the sidewalk below. Though over 500 people are at the rally, no one saw what happened. Or are they just not talking? Between pressure from her boss to close the case quickly to avoid racial unrest and her own sense of duty to discover the truth, Raleigh finds herself digging deep into clues that are right underneath her feet. With possible witnesses reluctant to talk and the discovery of chummy connections between supposed enemies, Raleigh knows that this isn't just an ordinary case. Will she find the truth in time? Or will her choices ultimately bring down everyone involved--including Raleigh herself? This first novel from an accomplished journalist and forensic geologist is sure to leave readers guessing until the very end."

Reviewed by Gina Holmes

I was anxious to review Ms. Giorello's work knowing she was a Pulitzer nominee. For a first novel, she does a great job. It's obvious this author knows her subject well. The detail in the investigation rings with authenticity that comes only from a previous knowledge of a subject or intense research.

Sibella Giorello is a journalist and I would have guessed as much by her minimalistic writing style that made for an easy and quick read as the book filled its pages with plenty of white space. There seemed to me to be a lack in conveyed feelings which also may be residual style from her journalistic roots. This aspect of her writing had me originally assuming the main character was a male. Later in the book, the protagonist goes through an experience that would emotionally cripple most, but she shows almost no emotion. I'd imagine she'd keep reliving the horrible experience but that doesn't happen, and I found that difficult to buy.

Still, I enjoyed this novelist's style, her creative descriptions, and authentic dialogue. The story itself could have pulled me in from the beginning a bit more with giving the reader more of a reason to care whether or not this particular case was solved either by making us care about the victim and/or his family-- or giving the investigating main character a compelling reason and personal interest in solving the case.

I absolutely look forward to Sibella's next novel because she has that certain X factor that is undescribable but indicates she's fully capable of producing a classic worthy novel.

This author is most definitely one to watch.