Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bouchercon Book Reviews #4

The reviews I'm posting today are for Murder in Thrall by Anne Cleeland and Invisible by Carla Buckley.  Both of these books are great reads.

Murder In ThrallMurder In Thrall by Anne Cleeland

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delighted is what I am with this new mystery from Anne Cleeland.  It has me speaking like the fair lass, DC Kathleen Doyle, that is half of the Scotland Yard team in this first in the series of Acton and Doyle Scotland Yard Mysteries.  Cleeland presents this story in a fresh, original style that opens each chapter with the very private thoughts of Chief Inspector Michael Sinclair, who also happens to be Lord Acton and the other half of the Scotland Yard team and brilliant, revered detective.  Acton has tapped Doyle to work with him, finding most useful her intuitive skills discerning a witness's veracity. 

The murder that begins the complex sequence of events in this mystery is that of a horse trainer at a London racetrack.  Acton and Doyle begin interviewing witnesses with a prearranged signal from Doyle if interviewee is lying.  Before 24 hours has passed, another murder has occurred, and thus begins a trail of bodies and mixed clues that make solving this case particularly difficult.  Doyle's fellow DCs are disgruntled that she has been handpicked to assist Acton, and some wonder if it's more than just Doyle's detective skills that are admired.  The partners play their personal lives close to the vest, so no one has any real ammunition to support any rumors.  As Acton and Doyle find themselves involved in a quagmire of leads and false leads, they get to know each other on a personal level, too.  It's a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, trying to finger the rotten apple in the barrel.    

I enjoyed the dialogue between Kathleen Doyle and Michael Acton as much as I've ever enjoyed a dialogue.  Kathleen's Irishness is full of good humor and cheer, and Acton's often dry humored responses are a perfect match.  I found myself laughing aloud at some points, and at all times, I was just mesmerized at how seamlessly the dialogue flowed. If ever there were a book to use as an example of great dialogue, this one is it.  I am truly smitten with this two new characters, and I can hardly wait to hear them talk again.  
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InvisibleInvisible by Carla Buckley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a word, oustanding!  Carla Buckley delivers another page turner in her second novel, Invisible.  She may be the most underrated published author that I read.  Not that many people aren't reading her, but the national spotlight hasn't focused on her, yet.  It will.  Nobody does characters better than Buckley, and that includes a lot of better known authors, who might do them as well, but not better.  Buckley's two novels, The Things That Keep Us Here and now Invisible, will grab you from page one.  No waiting for the storyline or the characters to get interesting.  They are immediately so.  Both of her novels deal with pandemics of sorts.  While The Things That Keep Us Here deals with a visible illness that devastates the country, Invisible showcases a silent killer that is harder to identify and fight.  It is the people in these stories that make them real, that personalize the immense tragedies.  Invisible does have a larger character roster, and each of those characters, from the main female lead of Dana to the waitress at the diner, are given their due and become a meaningful patch in the quilt that makes the elegant whole.  From description to action to dialogue, Carla Buckley is simply a master at creating characters you want to know and a story that you can't wait to hear more of. 

I was fortunate to meet Carla Buckley at a book festival last year where I bought her first book and obtained the usual author signature.  There was nothing flashy or overly colorful about her, but in the brief few moments of talking with her, I had my suspicions that she was something special.  It's quite gratifying to realize how right I was.   

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  1. Hi Kathy, thank you so much for your kind words! I would like to send along the next in the series when it comes out; please contact at annecleeland@yahoo.com. Thanks so much!


  2. Will contact you now, Anne. I would be thrilled to receive the next book. Great start to a new series!