Thursday, December 09, 2004

Small Town, Big Crimes
image:steventorres.comBurning Precinct Puerto Rico: Book Three by Steven Torres (Thomas Dunne Books, $23.95)
This is the third novel featuring the no-nonsense Sheriff Luis Gonzalo of Angustias (anguish), Puerto Rico, a remote small town in the mountains. The year is 1989 and Sheriff Gonzalo has 25 years on the job. His last duty before an extended vacation is to attend his anniversary celebration in the town square, where he's bored to tears by the speeches and distracted during the ceremony. Then billowing smoke in the distance signals a major fire on the outskirts of town and all hell breaks loose.
When the smoke clears, a family has been killed and their home burned down. The Ortiz family seemed to be farmers, but the violence signals something more serious was going on. The story moves at breakneck speed as Sheriff Gonzalo starts investigating and two dangerous suspects come to light. Other leads indicate the drug trade blighting the cities has moved up into this mountain idyll. But how? The town is so impenetrable even the walkie-talkies don't work steadily. Solidly relentless, the Sheriff follows the investigation through more twists than a daytime soap, as deputies get shot, people disappear and the new mayor continues trys to get him off the case.
An intimate sense of place, vivid and well-devoloped characterization and fast-paced action make this crime-spree a must-read.

Up Close and Uncomfortable
image:Amazon.comThe Confession by Domenic Stansberry (Hard Case Crime $6.99)
This first-person account will give you goose-bumps for days. The narrator, Jeff Danser is a psychologist who admits to being shallow, spoiled and unfaithful. There is a compelling unknown quantity just beneath the surface that keeps the reader reading and curiousity deepening. With masterful technique, the author reveals and conceals until neither the mystery, nor the suspect can be taken for granted. Chilling ending.

Past Imperfect
image:Time Warner BooksThe Dangerous Hour by Marcia Muller (Mysterious Press $25.00)
Sharon McCone is back and her business is thriving. Having just planned to expand McCone investigations she is feeling successful and satisfied. Look out for the sudden curve.
When one of McCone's employees is charged with credit card fraud the case threatens the firm because some of the purchases were delivered to the office. McCone and the firm start investigating and find weird connections to a local politician and two accidents that may be murder.
A couple of break-ins make it obvious that the fraud case is an attempt to discredit McCone and her firm -- and the investigation switches to include her past and possible enemies. As McCone and her team start closing in, the danger escalates and the injuries mount.
McCone, the original tough female detective, doesn't flinch or disappoint.

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