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A Taste for Vengeance: A Bruno, Chief of Police novel by Martin Walker, Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, US $25.95, Pp 340, June 2018, ISBN 978-0525519966

Probable Claws: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery by Rita Mae Brown, Bantam/Random House, US $27.00, Pp 352, May 2018, ISBN 978-0425287156

The Word Is Murder: A Novel by Anthony Horowitz, Harper Publishing Group, US $27.99, Pp 400, June 2018, ISBN 978-0062676788

A Study in Treason (The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mysteries) by Leonard Goldberg, Minotaur Books, US $26.99, Pp 320, June 2018, ISBN 978-1250101068

A Taste for Vengeance is set in Dordogne village of St. Denis in rural France. As chief of police of the entire Vézère Valley, Bruno needs to negotiate the unorthodox chain of command in rural France. Police commissioner Prunier for the Dordogne Département thinks that Bruno now works for him, but the Mayor of St. Denis believes that Bruno is still his subordinate. Bruno has to do delicate calculations about whom he reports to and who reports to him. When a British cooking student, Monica Felder, fails to show up at a luxurious cooking vacation in Bruno’s idyllic Dordogne village of St. Denis, the hostess calls Bruno for help. Monica was supposed to come there to take a cooking course offered by Bruno’s friends Pamela and Miranda. Monica Felder is untraceable and her husband, a retired British major, is unreachable. It is soon found that she has been killed when the police discover their bodies in a cabin belonging to Patrick James McBride, a mysterious Irishman. McBride is the owner of a local vineyard and possibly her lover. His frequent travels to Amsterdam, Florence, and Dubai show that he’s not a typical French winemaker. McBride had a background in intelligence and his connection to Monica’s husband is shrouded in mystery. Was she going to leave her husband? Does her husband know about her relationship with the Irishman? Should Bruno dig their military and intelligence past before he can discover the causes of the murders? Bruno has to search for the truth. A Taste for Vengeance is full of action and suspense. The reader is unable to guess what is coming next until the end. Rich description of rural France and French cuisine is an added plus. It is highly recommended for those why love to read crime novels.

Martin Walker is a senior fellow of the Global Business Policy Council, a private think tank based in Washington, D.C. He is also editor-in-chief emeritus and international affairs columnist at United Press International. His previous novels in the Bruno series are Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard; Black Diamond; The Crowded Grave; The Devil’s Cave; The Resistance Man; The Children Return; The Patriarch; Fatal Pursuit; and The Templars’ Last Secret, all international bestsellers. He lives in Washington, D.C., and the Dordogne.

*****

It is winter in Virginia. Snow has piled all over the place and the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet in Albemarle County looks like a living snow globe. Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen believes it is the right time to build a new work shed designed by one of her closest friends and a known architect, Gary Gardner. But, before Mary could start building the new work shed, Gary is shot dead by a masked motorcyclist right in front of Harry and Deputy Cynthia Cooper. This happens in broad daylight. Harry is outraged by this murder and takes it upon herself to investigate and look into her friend’s past. To her surprise, she finds a pattern of destructive greed reaching back to Virginia’s post-Revolutionary history. Harry succeeds in finding incriminating evidence against the killer but the killer strikes again. Harry remains determined to get to the killer and continues to follow a trail of clues that lead her to a construction site in Richmond. At this construction site, they had recently discovered mysterious remains and halted the construction work. As always, Harry is being aided by her loyal companions crime-solving cats — Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the Corgi. Harry is looking for a link between the decades-old dead, the recent violent killings and how they are linked to some ancient secrets. The killer fails to carry out some more killings but remains at large and becomes more desperate. Harry has discovered a deep-rooted legacy of corruption and cannot go back on that. But, she may be digging her own grave by pursuing the truth. It is a light but engrossing mystery that will make you feel relaxed as you turn pages.

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels — Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death  as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. Brown is an Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet. Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

*****

It is spring in London. Diana Cowper calls on mortician Robert Cornwallis and discusses and finalizes the plan for her own service. Diana Cowper is a wealthy woman and the mother of a famous actor, Damian Cowper. Six hours after she leaves the funeral parlor, she is found strangulated with a curtain in her own home. A brilliant — but disgraced — investigator Daniel Hawthorne is assigned to investigate the death. Hawthorne specializes in resolving murder mysteries but was thrown out of the force for the reasons he does not like to talk about. The question he faces now is if Diana Cowper arranged her own murder. Meanwhile, Daniel Hawthorne chooses Anthony Horowitz to document his life and his investigation. Horowitz is already pressed between two writing projects and his agent wants him to be working on The House of Silk, a Holmes-ian pastiche which Horowitz published in real life. The agent is surely not amused but Horowitz is thinking of his readers who would be delighted to read a true-crime account of the case. Horowitz finds too many twists and turns in the story and soon he himself is at the center of the story. Horowitz soon learns that Diana Cowper accidentally ran over two 8-year old twins that killed Timothy Godwin and left Jeremy Godwin forever brain-damaged ten years ago. He also learns that Diana Cowper had sent a text message to Damian seconds before her death — “I have seen the boy who was lacerated and I’m afraid” – which implicates the twins’ estranged parents, Alan and Judith Godwin. Horowitz soon starts suspecting that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own. The Word Is Murder is full of surprises and suspense Written in Horowitz’s peculiar style, The Word Is Murder is hugely entertaining. It is a special treat for those who want to read crime mysteries.

Anthony Horowitz is the author of the New York Times bestseller Moriarty and the internationally bestselling The House of Silk, as well as the New York Times bestselling Alex Rider series for young adults. As a television screenwriter, he created Midsomer Murders and the BAFTA-winning Foyle’s War, both of which were featured on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. Another of his well-noted novel is Magpie Murders. He regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines, and in January 2014 was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to literature. He lives in London.

*****

Set in 1914, A Study in Treason opens by announcing that the executed original of the French Treaty – a secret treaty between England and France is stolen from Duke of Winchester’s well-guarded country estate, where his son Lord Halifax was making copies of it. Sir Harold Whitlock of Scotland Yard assigns Dr. John Watson, Jr., and Dr. John Watson, Sr. and the daughter of Sherlock Holmes Joanna Blalock Watson the hunt for the stolen document. When traditional investigative means fail to solve the crime, Joanna devises an innovative plan to catch the thief. The document was stolen during the five minutes when Lord Harry Halifax left the room. But, he made sure that the windows and doors were locked during this duration. When Joanna came to inspect the room, she finds an entrance to an unknown attic. The footprints in the dust show that a large man who’s a heavy smoker spent time waiting in the attic for his chance to steal the document. Later, the detectives find that one of the guests in a nearby inn is never seen and has all meals delivered in the room. Joanna’s initial suspicion falls on Roger Bennett, the son of the Duke’s family butler, who’s friendly with the German-born groundskeeper. But, soon the butler is found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. She instructs the Baker Street Irregulars watch the unknown guest in the inn while she continues to hunt down clues. The story resembles the real world and is partly based on the facts left to us by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a different kind of mystery written in the style of Conan Doyle’s stories with a female protagonist. It is an extraordinarily entertaining mystery. This is a gift to the fans of Sherlock Holmes.

Leonard Goldberg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Joanna Blalock medical thrillers. His novels have been translated into a dozen languages and were selections of the Book of the Month Club, French and Czech book clubs, and The Mystery Guild. They were featured as People’s “Page-Turner of the Week” and at the International Book Fair. After a long career affiliated with the UCLA Medical Center as a Clinical Professor of Medicine, he now lives on an island off the coast of Charleston, SC.

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