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Check It Out

Courier Articles by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, August 22, 1999


Thrills And Suspense For Late Summer

Are you ready for a break? Has the heat gotten to you and are you too worn out to concentrate on anything too serious or literary? Thrillers and novels of suspense are often popular with busy people who lead stressful lives. One's day-to-day worries pale in comparison to the fast action and scary situations that develop in the typical thriller. Today I bring you some suggestions of newer books which critics have been praising and library customers have been recommending.

The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters (Avon, 1999).

Stolen and forged artifacts, treacherous defamation of character, a murder, a love affair gone wrong, the Egyptian nationalist movement in 1911 are some of the plot elements in this latest mystery starring archaeologist-cum-detective Amelia Peabody. If you aren't a big mystery fan you might enjoy Peters books because they center around the characters rather than plot, so the mystery, while important, isn't as crucial to one's enjoyment of the book.

Prayers For Rain by Dennis Lehane (Morrow, 1999).

Boston private eye Patrick Kenzie teams up with Angela Gennaro to find the psychopath who drove a woman to suicide. The fifth installment in an intricately plotted, beautifully written, and under-acknowledged Boston mystery series. Lehane's books reflect our troubling times, when the distinction between right and wrong is often fuzzy. His best book yet according to some critics.

The Sands of Sakkara by Glenn Meade (St. Martins Press, 1999).

A historical military thriller which has been highly recommended by a regular library customer. The non-stop action revolves around a Nazi plot to kill Roosevelt and Churchill at Cairo where they are meeting to plan the allied invasion of Europe. My informant tells me that Meade's books are like the ones Jack Higgins used to write.

Italian Fever by Valerie Martin (Knopf, 1999).

When a writer of popular fiction dies under mysterious circumstances in a Tuscan farmhouse his assistant goes to identify his body and perhaps to uncover the truth about his death. Stylish, romantic suspense with a touch of humor which makes it perfect reading for your late summer entertainment, especially if you weren't able to get away to Tuscany this summer.

Outlaw Mountain by J. A. Jance (Avon, 1999).

An elderly widow with a taste for Scotch, 'Vegas and younger men, is found dead in the Arizona desert. Sheriff Joanna Brady has to put her personal life on hold and dig into the lives of the woman's greedy son and daughter, and the identity of her mysterious gentleman friend. The investigation gets sidetracked by ugly local land disputes, and the Sheriff finds herself wading through a morass of graft and corruption that may have given someone a reason to kill more than once.

Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs (Scribner, 1999).

After her debut with Deja Dead, Reichs has turned out another thriller starring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Called to investigate the century-old bones of Sister Elisabeth Nicolet, whose heroic work during Quebec's 1885 smallpox epidemic may qualify her for sainthood. Brennan takes reader on a riveting journey from the morgue to the lab to the crime scene Critics are saying that this poignant and powerful work, confirms Reich's status as a new crime-writing super-star.

Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr (Putnam, 1999).

Moving from wilderness settings to New York City, park ranger Anna Pigeon becomes involved in a murder investigation when a young girl exploring the Statue of Liberty falls to her death. This sixth Anna Pigeon mystery was recently voted one of the top ten crime novels by Booklist magazine.

A Cinderella Affidavit by Michael Fredrickson (Forge, 1999).

A routine drug raid goes awry in Boston's Chinatown, killing a police officer as he batters down the door to execute a search warrant. The police arrest and charge a man with the crime, but his lawyer has her suspicions about the informant whose story, recounted in a police affidavit, was the basis for the warrant. An East Branch patron called me recently to recommend this thriller with a local connection. The author's wife is former Evansville resident Jocelyn "Jolly" Tager who now lives in Massachusetts.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.