Mysteries: Best reads for March

smacknee@mcclatchy.comMarch 8, 2014 

Without Warning, by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur. 304 pages.

Though the Wilton, Maine, newspaper publisher’s husband murdered the chief of police’s wife years ago, both have stayed in town and carried on with their lives, while steering clear as much as two local leaders can. When a flood causes the town’s traditional time capsule to be unearthed early, there’s a surprise on top (a pile of human bones) and a surprise inside – accurate predictions of some of the community’s most grisly deaths in the four years since the capsule was buried.

While trying to prevent the remaining predictions from coming true, the journalist and the policeman find themselves no longer at arm’s length.

The dialogue is a cut above that in most mystery novels, rising to real wit at times. I found it distracting to cut from being inside one person’s head to being inside another’s and then back to the voice of an omniscient narrator. Still, the writing has an appealing conversational pace, and I stayed interested in the small-town characters and their folksy small-town lives.

Missing You, by Harlan Coben. Dutton. 402 pages.

You might think twice about signing up for a dating service after reading this one.

Police detective Kat Donovan’s best friend signs her up on a dating site and she finds her long-lost fiancé there, but his response when she gets in touch is fishy, and things get fishier. A teenage boy comes looking for Kat to get answers about his missing mother, and eventually it all comes back to the dating service.

There’s a whole lot of story going on here, with Kat discovering that the man in jail for her father’s murder didn’t do it, and a subplot with some people buried in boxes, and what is up with that yoga teacher? The finale is epic, as all these storylines slam together in a thunder of meshing subplots.

Coben has two North Carolina tour stops: 1 p.m. Saturday, March 22 at Books-A-Million at Concord Mills near Charlotte; and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 23 at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

Precious Thing, by Colette McBeth. Minotaur. 291 pages.

“Oh, what I’d give to see you one last time, to have you look me in the eye and know, without a flicker of doubt, that I have only ever loved you, that everything I have done was driven by a fierce desire to protect you.”

This prologue sets the stage for us to wonder what that “everything I have done” might be, although it’s hard to believe it was anything good.

Then TV reporter Rachel Walsh arrives at a news conference and is shocked to see that the missing girl she’s been sent to cover is her best friend, Clara. As the high-profile case progresses, Rachel is bewildered when evidence seems to point to her.

In flashbacks we see how the friendship forged in their teens turned ugly. Rachel narrates the story as if telling it to Clara and keeps us guessing to the end.


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