Tag Archives: mystery

Sunday Review: Lady Odelia’s Secret by Jane Steen

I enjoyed the first novel in this series, so I was glad when I learned that Jane Steen had written a sequel. When I found out that part of the story dealt with Victorian artists, I was even happier. I especially enjoy novels that touch on the lives of painters. Sir Geraint’s subject matter is interesting, and I found it easy to visualize his paintings from Steen’s descriptions. 

In some ways, this is closer to a historical cozy than a hard-boiled murder mystery, but the novel doesn’t veer too far in that direction. It’s doesn’t dwell on the cute, quaint, eccentric features of the setting that so many cozies do. Instead, it’s as concerned with the intertwined relationships in the Scott-DeQuincy family as the crimes that disrupt their lives. Lady Helena is a very likable character—the overlooked baby of an aristocratic family, forced by the death of her beloved husband to develop a stronger backbone and more independent spirit than she might have otherwise. 

Odelia is Helena’s much older and favored sister, who spends most of her time in London working as an artist. The secret referred to in the title puts enormous strain on the sisters’ relationship and forces Helena to make choices about her values even as she tries discover who is stalking her sister with malicious intent. 

I’d be remiss not to mention that Fortier, the intelligent and attractive French doctor, is back, and Helena learns a bit more about the problem marriage that has made their growing attraction an impossibility. I’m sure that readers will meet him again in future installments. 

I recommend this book without reservation as well as its prequel. 

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Book Review: Dialogues of a Crime

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I cracked open the cover of Dialogues of a Crime by John K. Manos. I knew it was a crime story, but it didn’t seem like the typical murder mystery / detective novel. It’s not. It’s an interesting confection blended of almost equal parts Godfather, police procedural, and film noir with a Chicago twist.

The book opens with a snapshot of a brutal crime in progress. Then the narrative switches to the story of college student Michael Pollitz being caught up in a drug sweep in 1972. Michael, who comes from a blue-collar family, quickly learns that the justice system is radically different for those who have money than it is for him. He tries to do the right thing, but what happens to him is anything but fair.

Fast forward to 1994. A lifelong criminal facing serious time tries to buy leniency by saying he has information about a couple of cold cases—killings that occurred 21 and 22 years earlier. Detective Larry Klinger doesn’t exactly trust the guy, but the information is intriguing enough to make him open an investigation that leads him straight to Michael Pollitz. Is the former student now turned advertising executive cool enough to hide the fact that he’s a murderer? Or is he covering up for an old friend—mob boss Dom Calabria, who’s the father of his grade school buddy?

The story is a page turner; I read it straight through in two days. Yet it touches on interesting issues of justice, guilt, and loyalty. Given the current controversies over the privatization of prisons and the consequences of strict guidelines for sentencing drug-related crimes, this novel has contemporary relevance. Anyone who likes mysteries and crime novels will enjoy reading Dialogues of a Crime.

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