Sunday, August 23, 2009


Author: Jeffrey Cohen
Berkley Prime Crime
Penguin Group
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-425-22815-9
$ 7.99
290 pages
Fiction, Mystery
When Elliot Freed is informed by his former wife’s new husband that she is missing, he is intrigued, but far from motivated. Having your wife leave you for this man isn’t always the best for having a trusting relationship. The problem now is that Elliot has again become a part of Sharon‘s, the ex-wife, life and wants to continue to renew their friendship and hopefully, their love. Unfortunately, Elliot quickly discovers that Sharon is indeed missing.
Investigating would be much easier if you didn’t have to actually work. Elliot owns Comedy Tonight, a revived movie theater and he also has to deal with the day-to-day problems like the plumbing flooding a bathroom and his hired help.
What do you do when you don’t like the results of your investigation? Elliot has that problem when it appears that the last thing Sharon did was to inform one of her patients that he had a malignant brain tumor. The patient, in despair, then killed himself. Quickly, it is discovered that the dead man did not have any tumor. So why was there the deception?
A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION is a continuation of the characters from SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED and IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE. All of these are part of his movie mysteries called a Double Feature Mystery. The book could work as a stand alone but you really need to understand some of the background of the characters to thoroughly enjoy this book. Read these books in order.
Jeffrey Cohen is a New Jersey boy who continues to live there. He truly understands the setting, customs, and the people of this state. He has written screen plays, the Aaron Tucker series of books, and worked as a reporter.
A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION is fun reading. It’s relaxing, comical, and realistic in that the person overwhelmed is the main character. Reading about a character in crisis is definitely preferable to having a personal crisis.
I’m looking forward to the next Elliot Freed book in the series.
Teri Davis August 23, 2009
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Author: Lucinda Rosenfeld
Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-316-04450-9
268 pages
Fiction, Best Friends, Female Friendship, Jealousy-Fiction, Chic Lit
Maybe it’s a female thing, but women tend to be a little competitive when it comes to who marries first, who has the first child, who has the best marriage, who has the most money for shopping, etc… Unfortunately, no one is the enviable one in all categories. Most of us grow beyond the petty jealousies as we mature and are content with our lives. This is the story of a group of friends who appear to share everything but many secrets are not even told to your best friends.
Wendy Murman was the first one to marry, but not the first to have a child. She has the dream husband and has even agreed to support her husband for a year while he writes a screen play. She also has decided that now is the time for her to become pregnant. Too bad, that wanting to be pregnant is not as easy as actually being pregnant. Her pregnancy goal has become so important that the only time she has relations with her husband is during her ovulating time of her cycle.
Dealing with these frustrations is one thing, but her long-time friend, Daphne always seems to be habitually demanding of Wendy’s time and attention. When Daphne is swept off her feet by a handsome, rich, and arrogant lawyer, she no longer has need of Wendy. This creates green-eyed jealousy and questioning about their long-time friendship.
At times, I would consider I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU to be catty. It is realistic in that many women do enjoy gossiping, spreading stories, and secretly hoping that their personal situation will be better than their peers. The characters are definitely realistic with all their flaws eventually exposed. The pace is quick and the story seems like a invisible window into someone’s life.
Lucinda Rosenfeld is a native of Brooklyn and has written numerous essays in various publications. She also succeeds in having many real friendships.
Teri Davis August 23, 2009
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Friday, August 14, 2009


Author: Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen Press
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59058-629-7
254 pages
Fiction, Mystery

Sam Blackman lost a leg in Iraq. When he returned, his parents were killed in an automobile accident leaving him wealthy. He quickly opens an account in the Cayman Islands, but allows himself adequate money to live. He also decides to open his own detective agency with his partner and love, Nakayla Robertson.

Their first case for the agency is a little unusual. Sam is called to visit a retirement community where a little old lady hires him to retrieve a box from her safety deposit box at the bank. She gives him the key and the password. Sam has no problem with this task but is curious about the swastika in the top of the box. He hides the box in his office.

Sam immediately realizes this might be more complicated when the night guard is murdered in his office and the box is missing. When his client is also murdered, Sam and Nakayla have a struggle balancing the investigation and staying alive. What could possibly combine the Nazis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the theft of Iraqi antiquities?

The historical part of North Carolina and the sympathetic Nazi supporters was fascinating and based upon real events and William Dudley Pelley who was the founder of the Silver Legion which was an anti-Semitic organization. What happened to all those who were a part of this organization? How did this fit with the story?

This story is well-written and the action keeps pace with the development. It keeps you wondering until the last page. The difficulty I had was that you really need to read the previous novel, BLACKMAN’S COFFIN, for the character development for both Sam and Nakayla and their relationship.

Besides this book and the one mentioned above, Mark de Castrique has also written DANGEROUS UNDERTAKING, FOOLISH UNDERTAKING, GRAVE UNDERTAKING, and FINAL UNDERTAKING. He has also worked in the television and film production industry and now is an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

This is one of those novels that the story is so strong, you don’t even notice how many pages you are reading. The story keeps you wondering how this can possibly logically conclude. I look forward to reading more books by Mark de Castrique.

Teri Davis August 14, 2009

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It Happened One Knife

Author: Jeffrey Cohen
Berkley Publishing Group
Penguin Group
July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-425-22256-0
296 pages
Fiction, Mystery

“This wasn’t just another DVD: this was life or death. Or life and death. I was hoping for life; there had already been enough death.”

Owning and running a comedy movie theater is Elliot Freed’s lifelong dream and he is finally living it. Everything would be perfect if he still had a relationship with his ex-wife and perhaps a little more cooperation and a little less attitude from his part-time employees.

While Anthony Pagliarulo has dreams to be a movie producer and director, Elliot allows Anthony to use the theater to show his film, Killing Time. Even though the bloody scenes do not fit into the comedy theme of the theater, Elliot begrudgingly allows the showing and the party afterwards in the theater. He is also the first to be accused of stealing the film when it disappears.

Elliot has a great idea to invite one of his favorite actors who happens to be living in a retirement home nearby for aging actors, Harry Lillis. Harry was part of the comedy team of Lillis & Townes back in the glamorous days of the legendary stars like Cary Grant, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, and numerous more. The theater is filled when Lillis begins to speak and answer questions. Much to everyone’s surprise, including Harry and Elliot, is one audience member who is almost becoming a heckler. The identity of this person is Les Townes. The audience and Elliot thoroughly enjoy their bantering which continues on as this team is reunited. The tone changes though when Harry mention’s the death of Les’s wife which might not have been accidental.

Elliot feels obligated to investigate both the theft of the film and the possible murder from the past. Unfortunately, the more he discovers, the more crimes are committed.

IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE is definitely a must read for movie buffs. Even though the main character is a legendary fictional actor in the movie business, there are numerous references to real movie history and actors of a previous time period. Also, there is a strong sense of this author really understanding the people and the places in this particular New Jersey community.

Jeff Cohen is a home-grown Jersey boy who has worked as a reporter, writer, and author of many screenplays. He has written many books in his Aaron Tucker series, books about Asperger’s syndrome and autism, and SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED and NIGHT AT THE OPERATION in the Elliot Freed series.

The characters are well-developed. The story is quickly paced and logical. This is a novel that could easily have happened in real life. I thoroughly enjoyed IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE.

I look forward to another book in the Elliot Freed series.

Teri Davis August 14, 2009

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Sunday, August 9, 2009


Author: Chris Grabenstein
Minotaur Books
St. Martin’s Publishing Group
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38231-5
ISBN-10: 0-312-38231-6
342 pages
Fiction, Mystery

“I bumped into my old girlfriend Katie Landry this afternoon. Six hours later, she was dead.”

John Ceepak and Danny Boyle are the detectives you would want to investigate if you were murdered. They are determined to discover the truth and won’t give up. Ceepak is the typical ex-Marine with values of black and white. His clothes are always pressed. Ceepak does not smoke, drink, or curse. The man has no vices, except for being perfect. Boyle is the young inexperienced young detective who is fortunate to be partnered with a man of intense values and commitment to do the right thing.

When Danny’s friend Katie is murdered, naturally he is considered to be a suspect at first. With Ceepak’s assistance, the two-some investigate the murder and discover numerous suspects and further crimes.

Katie was hired to be a nanny for a famous casino magician’s children. Why would anyone murder a nanny? Added to the death, Katie was dressed in an ill-fitting costume that implied her involvement while possibly kinky sex. This wasn’t the Katie who grew up with Danny and was a kindergarten teacher. Danny felt responsible to discover the true story. Ceepak, naturally, realizes, the importance to assist and volunteers to assist the Atlantic City police with this investigation.

Ceepak also has his own imperfections in his life, especially with his father being a murderer. John Ceepak planned to visit Atlantic City to have a conversation with a former cellmate of his father, to whom he admitted the murder. Unfortunately, his father has his own unfinished agenda for John.

The characters are vivid, believable, and definitely alive. The realism makes you feel as if you are a part of the investigative team. Perfect pacing makes this story memorable.

Chris Grabenstein was an improvisational comedian and has worked for advertising agencies writing commercials. He became a writer by taking a Writing Aptitude Test and James Patterson recognized his brilliance instantly hiring him. He has written screenplays, made-for-TV movies, Muppet scripts, and a variety of other texts. Winning the Anthony Award for “Best First Mystery” given at Bouchercon 2006 for TILT A WHIRL was the beginning of his successful writing career.

MIND SCRAMBLE is the fifth-book in the John Ceepak series following TILT A WHIRL, MAD MOUSE, WHACK A MOLE, and HELL HOLE. He has also written the thrillers SLAY RIDE and HELL FOR THE HOLIDAYS and for younger readers THE CROSSROADS and THE HANGING HILL.

Teri Davis August 9, 2009

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Author: Ann Parker
Copyright: July 2009
Poisoned Pen Press
298 pages
Fiction, Mystery, Historical
Anytime a former President visits any place, there certainly is disruption into the normal life of the community. Former President Grant visiting Leadville, Colorado definitely livened up this boomtown. Imagine the streets with the crowds of people who waited through rain and now into the steamy heat for the experience to actually see a president. However, in 1880, the streets are dirt and after the rain, now it is mud.
Inez Stannert has a unique situation in that she is part owner/manager of the Silver Queen Saloon. Missing from her life is her husband who has disappeared over a year ago. Inez is ready to move on with her life. Being that the environment is not nurturing, she consented to having her sister raise her son back east. While fighting the loneliness, she finds the love of her life with a minister for this community. Walking the fine line between not drawing the attention of the town from her position or the minister’s position, makes life interesting for her.
Adding to this is Inez’s desire to become financially independent and she agrees to a partnership with a local madam of an upscale brothel. Almost as soon as the agreement is made, one of the women from the brothel is murdered. A man is arrested for the crime and also arrested is the madam for the attack upon the police. Now, Inez is regretting her investment but also feels obligated to assist with the brothel. Things are seldom as they seem and she finds herself investigating the murder and other developments so much that it is difficult for her to work at saloon.
The characters are believable, including their faults, values as well as their natural gifts. What I enjoyed the most was the internal drive of some of the characters for a better life. Also, discovering the personal secrets or hidden skeletons in their closets, made this novel a true page turner. It’s difficult to fully understand living in a different time period when without the personal experience.. Ann Parker is extremely successful in transporting the reader to the time of 1880 and the place of Leadville, Colorado.

LEADEN SKIES is the third book in the Silver Rush Mystery series following SILVER LIES and IRON TIES. However, the book is also successful as a standalone without the knowledge of the characters in the previous books. The hook at the end, will definitely catch any reader into anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.

Ann Parker studied Physics and English Literature which makes her uniquely qualified to truly understand the situation of the blend of the historical mining community with the scientific value of the minerals of this area. She truly has an insight into the people during this era.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Author: James W. Huston
1998/William Morrow/Hardcover
April 1999/Avon/Paperback
Paperback $9.99
544 pages
Fiction, Action-adventure, Military
It’s not unusual for the President and Congress not to agree. It is unusual when someone is gutsy, o.k. ballsy; enough to actually do what they believe is the right thing to do. So, who is responsible for our reaction? What happens if the action causes a disaster? Who’s at fault then?
In James W. Huston, BALANCE OF POWER, an American ship in Indonesian waters is attacked. When a Navy SEAL team arrives at this ship it appears that all of those serving on this merchant ship were handcuffed to the ship and shot in the head, except the captain who is missing. One of the SEALs discovers an unusual device and begins to drill into it, causing an immediate explosion destroying the ship.
Now, the US needs to figure out who did this and why. No one is claiming responsibility and no foreign governments seem to have any useful information regarding the attack. Finally, there is a clue as to where the terrorists might be. The US President refuses to do anything and is tired of the revenge approach that has been previously used. The Speaker of the House sees this as an opportunity to advance himself politically. Through a seldom used item in the Constitution, one of the congressional aides discovers the use of the Letter of Marque and Reprisal. Although last used in the War of 1812, would this give Congress the power to send a Navy battle group to attack the terrorists?
This is a fast-moving, adventure-packed, novel. The characters are realistic and the action so intense that it does keep you up at night reading. You feel like the characters that cannot rest due to the intensity and the action, you, as a reader, also cannot rest.
This is a novel that was originally published in 1998 in hardcover, reprinted in paperback in 1999, and now again reappears in 2009 also in paperback form. It appears as if this novel is being considered as a movie.
James W. Huston grew up in Indiana and has earned a Navy ROTC scholarship. He then served in the Navy as a pilot and actually attended the TOPGUN training school. He then attended law school and moved to San Diego where he presently lives with his family.
After reading this novel, Huston obviously utilizes his past experiences into the characters within his novel. Looking over his novel, I see that he is often compared to Tom Clancy. He is less technical than Clancy but delves more into the characters and their relationships with each other. Personally, I prefer that in a novel.
Fast-paced, intense, exciting, page-turner, keeps you awake at night, all of those describe BALANCE OF POWER. What is most frightening to me was that this could really happen! If it ever does, I certainly hope that someone in either Congress or the Executive Office has read BALANCE OF POWER.

By: Teri Davis August 1, 2009
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