I’ve Got You Under My Skin

I’ve Got You Under My Skin (Under Suspicion #1) by Mary Higgins Clark

Laurie Moran’s doctor husband was shot in the park while he was out with his son Timmy. After the killer shot him, he told Timmy “I’m coming for your mom next, then you.” All Timmy remembers from of the man was his intense and scary blue eyes.

Five years have gone by and Laurie has raised her son with help from her retired police officer father, Leo Farley. Laurie is a television producer who has had a few bombs recently.

This time she is sure she has a winner, a Unsolved Mysteries like TV show where all the people from the case reenact what happened in cold cases, having them be looked over and maybe solve it-with viewer’s aid.

And she has the perfect case to start them off, the murder of Betsy Bonner Powell, otherwise known as The Graduation Gala Murder. Twenty years ago, four close friends graduated from college and Robert Powell and Besty Bonner Powell decided to throw a huge gala for the four of them-Claire Bonner (Betsy’s daughter and Robert’s step daughter), Nina Craig, Alison Schaefer [Kimball], and Regina Callari.

The morning after the party, Robert went to deliver his wife her early morning coffee, as he did every morning, and found her dead-smothered to death. He, the housekeeper Jane, and all the girls were heavily questioned, being under suspicion for twenty years.

Robert Powell is very ill man, not long for the world, and he agrees to the show and to putting up $250,000-tax free. That added to the TV show’s $50,000 they are paying each woman-every single one will take home $300,000 for just a bit of rehashing-and maybe even clear the suspicions surrounding them.

Hmmm…very tempting

Alex Buckley, famous defensive attorney, especially for the way he questions witness on the stand, will be the host and will question each of the graduates, Jane, Robert Powell, and the family friend George Curtis.

As they all gather everyone wonders and questioned which of them did it?

Claire was very close to her mother, even commuting to Vasser to live at home. Her mother was so beautiful and commanding and she so plain. Did she kill her mother because she resented Robert Powell coming between them or was she jealous of her mother?

Hmm…

Nina’s mother, actress Muriel Craig, was dating Robert Powell. One day they went out to a restaurant Nina saw her friend Claire and her mother Betsy also dining out. When Betsy met Robert that was it, they married not long after. Muriel was furious at this and always blamed her daughter for ruining her chances-did Nina snap and kill her-thinking it might finally shut her mother up?

Alison was from a poor family and a scholarship student who worked hard for everything she got and her scholarship to college. She married four months after the murder to longtime friend Thomas “Rod” Kimball. What could be her motive?

Hmm…

Regina’s dad heavily invested in Robert Powell’s hedge funds, losing everything and committing suicide. Did she get revenge by killing Betsy?

Jane used to work with Betsy when Betsy was a usher at the theater. Her life increased wonderfully after Betsy hired her on, or did it? Did she have a reason to kill her?

Hmm…

Robert Powell-he loved Betsy with all his heart and never remarried. Is he really the grieving widower, or was he the one who killed her?

And George Curtis, helpful family friend-or does something more lie under that facade?

But that is just the surface, each one has a secret-and a deeper motive for killing Betsy.

Hmmm…?

Claire could use the money and she hates Powell with vengeance, that being her only reason to come back. Powell molested her from the time she moved in until she fled after her mother’s murder. Claire had been trying to work up the nerve to tell her mother what was happening when she overheard the two, and discovered her mom knew and allowed it. Was Claire a part of the deal always, the real reason he left Muriel for Betsy? Claire had just found out before the gala, did she snap with anger and smother her mother?

Nina is just an extra and is stuck with her mother after Muriel almost burned her apartment down falling asleep while smoking. Life with her mother has been hell ever since Robert Powell left Muriel as every day she was verbally abused and yelled at for messing that up. She agrees to come to get the money and get rid of her mother-moving her out and as far away as possible. What no one knows is that besides the constant berating of her mother Betsy always rubbed in her face as well-even going as far as writing a slight on the invitation and to her face at the party. Did she finally snap under the pressure and silence her?

Alison’s dreams of becoming a doctor and researcher were dashed when she lost the scholarship that she had worked so hard for and couldn’t afford to pay for graduate school on her own. Rod signed on a great football contract and asked her to marry him, promising to pay for her schooling. However, shortly after they were married Allison lost her dreams again when Rod was injured and lost his contract-the two ending up working in a pharmacy and Rod having to use crutches or a wheelchair. She agrees to come to get the money and go back to school. While all know she lost her dream no one knows that Betsy was the cause. Betsy wanted to join a socialite club and in order to get in she had Robert donate a ton of money to the school and used her influence to give the rich daughter of the socialite the scholarship to seal her entrance into the club. Alison was furious as the girl who won it was lower in grades, had dropped out, could afford to pay her own way, and was not deserving of it at all. Alison also sleepwalks when stressed and angry, could she had found her way into the room that night?

Regina had a horrible divorce where she didn’t come out with much. She is a struggling real estate agent, competing with her wealthy ex for care and attention of her son. With the money-she could provide things for her son herself, and not have to worry about money. But she has a dark secret too. When her father committed suicide he left a note (which she stole to protect her mother) saying that Betsy manipulated him to invest the money. The two had been having and affair, she and Robert knew all along that the investment would fail, and planned this all to take his money and save themselves. Because of that she lost her dear father and home, a loss she felt no stronger than on her graduation. Did she finally snap and get revenge!

From the day that Jane moved into the house she fell head over heels in love with Robert. She also grew to hate Besty and her “queenly” ways. Did she do her in to get a chance at Robert?

George and Betsy had a two-year affair, which at the end of it Betsy threatened to tell his wife all unless he paid her off. George knew that paying her off wouldn’t end it but just begin a constant flow of payments-but he knew if Isabelle found out she would leave him and his life would be over. Did he kill her to protect his wife?

And Robert, how much did he know? How much was he a part of? And did he kill her too?

Meanwhile, Robert’s driver discovers most of the girl’s secrets and starts blackmailing them, and blue eyes resurfaces-hanging close to Laurie and planing on finishing his threat-during the graduation gala filming.

This had an amazing buildup! I was listening to it on CD while driving about and became so caught up in it I had to check the book out to read whodunit.

However, I did wish the deeper secrets were revealed, to all the characters which I wish they, as the “motives” for murder are so weak without them.

But otherwise a real page turner! And I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to The Man Next Door

For more mysteries in retrospect, go to Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For more blackmailing, go to The Cereal Murders

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Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So today we celebrate with a romantic murder mystery!

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Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark

This is the first Mary Higgins Clark book I had ever read, so it is special to me. Years back I was just watching TV shows and movies on Youtube on my phone while I was working on something on the computer. The movie Let Me Call You Sweetheart came on, and I started watching it.

I got so into the film, I decided to read the book.

Kerri McGrath is a divorced mother and works for the D.A. Her ex-husband left her to trade up for a new wife/partnership in a law firm and has been pretty absent in Kerri and their daughter Robin’s life.

One day he was taking Robin out and she didn’t have her seatbelt on. They were in an accident and she gets her face damaged. Kerri takes her to the best plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Smith. While they are waiting, Kerri sees a beautiful woman that looks so familiar to her, but she can’t remember where or why. She asks about her name, but doesn’t recognize it.

It sticks with her, and she keeps thinking of roses. It continues to trouble her until one day it hits her like a flash! The woman was a dead ringer for Suzanne Reardon! The Sweetheart Murder!

Eleven years ago, Suzanne Reardon was found dead in her home, sweetheart roses thrown everywhere. Her husband was arrested for her murder and the case quickly sewn up. It bothers Kerri that Dr. Smith would make a lookalike, and not one but TWO, as she discovers another woman done over the same way. She calls for the old files and begins to research into the case.

Geoff Dorso is pleased she is interested, as he is the defense attorney for Skip Reardon, Suzanne’s husband. He never believed that Skip was guilty and has been trying for the last eleven years to find something that proves it and help him get his freedom. He eagerly goes over the case with Kerri, hoping they find something new, along with falling head over heels for her.

But not all are happy that Kerri is looking into it. Her boss Frank Green made his career on that case and he is up for promotion, one that could go away if it turned out he sent an innocent man to jail. He encourages Kerri to let it go as she has a ton of current cases that are in need of looking into.

State Senator Jonathan Hoover, and friend of Kerri’s, is not interested in her dragging this up as he and the party were interested in elevating Frank Green and appointing Kerri to judgeship, but that won’t happen if she keeps looking into this.

Don’t mess with it

Jimmy Weeks, Mafioso, is dead set against any investigation into the Suzanne Reardon case. Right now he is going on trial, Kerri’s ex-husband, Bob, being his defense attorney. He tells Bob in no uncertain terms that he needs to get his ex-wife to quit or else bad things will happen.

Kerri is waffling between looking into the case and letting it go, especially with the threats against her, her job, and her daughter. But then she uncovers something and believes that the real killer is still out there. Will she be able to figure it out in time? Or will this be her last case?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

I love this book. I enjoy it so much that I reread it a lot. I definitely recommend it to anyone.

For more Valentine’s Day posts, go to This Pen for Hire

For more on Mary Higgins Clark, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more mysteries in retrospect, go to The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to The House on Foster Hill

The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

Ready for our next Christmas mystery?

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The Disappearance of Edwin Drood by Peter Rowland

Background:

So you might recall me reviewing the classic, unsolved mystery, The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens two years ago. This book is one author’s attempt at trying to finish the unsolved mystery.

In 1870, Charles Dickens wrote the book The Mystery of Edwin Drood which involved the disappearance of a young man Edwin Drood. Before Dickens could finish his work, he succumbed to illness and died. This created an unsolvable mystery that has driven many people crazy.

AAAAHHHHH

  • In 1870, Robert Henry Newell published his version of the story, transporting the tale to America and more a parody than anything else.
  • 1871-1872, John Jasper’s Secret: The Sequel to Charles Dicken’s Mystery of Edwin Drood, was published by Henry Morford.
  • In 1873, Thomas Jane wrote his version of the ending and was praised as the “true version” for a long period of time as many believed him when he said that he had channeled Dickens’ actual spirit in writing.

Very suspicious

  • In 1935, Universal came out with the film Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Claude Rains as John Jasper and David Manners as Edwin Drood.
  • In 1980, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published by Leon Garfield. In his book every loose end is wrapped up by his introduction of several new characters.
  • In 1985 the musical Drood, aka The Mystery of Edwin Drood, came out. In this the audience is able to vote on who they think the killer should be. It was revived in 2012.
  • In 1992, Peter Rowland wrote The Disappearance of Edwin Drood, in which years after the incident a very old John Jasper asks Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve the case.

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  • In 1993 The D. Case or the Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini was published with the most famous literary detectives attempting to solve the mystery. It features Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, and more.
  • In 1993, A&E distributed the film The Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Robert Powell as John Jasper and Jonathan Phillips as Edwin Drood.
  • In 2005, the Doctor Who episode, The Unquiet Dead, has Dickens and the Doctor fighting aliens, causing him to end the novel with the Gelth being the murderer.
  • In 2012, The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Part II, The Solution, by David Saunders was published. He believes that not only is John Jasper a red herring, but that there is another murder that has been overlooked.
  • In 2012, BBC produced a two episode mini-series that took a lot of liberties with the book in it’s portrayal. It made John Jasper secretly Edwin’s brother not uncle, and Ned & Helen the half siblings of both Edwin and John Jasper.

So we can see that lots of people try, but let’s see how Rowland did.

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Thoughts Before Reading:

I picked this book up at a library book sale as it sounded interesting. Charles Dickens meets Sherlock Holmes?

Seriously?

Sherlock Holmes solving an unsolvable mystery?

It sounded perfect, but let’s see how it turned out?

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Synopsis:

This book takes place during The Return of Sherlock Holmes, after “The Adventure of the Empty House.” Sherlock Holmes has been recalled to life after the Reichenbach Falls episode.

So Sherlock Holmes has been sent quite a bit of correspondence from a man who is searching for his missing nephew.  This man is John Jasper, the one from The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

There is one thing that is very important to look at. The Mystery of Edwin Drood came out in 1870, while The Return of Sherlock Holmes, came out in 1905, that is a 35 year difference.

Hmm…

With 35 years this means it is a “cold case” or “murder in retrospect”. But don’t worry, Holmes can handle anything with his masters of observation.

Holmes and Dr. Watson head off to meet John Jasper and hear the case. John relates what happened in the original book. Edwin “Ned” Drood was his nephew who he raised after his father and mother; and later grandparents died. Edwin was engaged to a Rosa Bud, but secretly broke off the engagement.

Hmm…

Two siblings came to live in the area, Neville and his twin sister Helena. Edwin and Neville had gotten into an argument over Rosa. They supposedly patched up over their Christmas dinner, but then Edwin and Neville took off to look at the storm.

That night Ned was never seen again. Many believed that Neville did something to him but there is no proof. Jasper cannot stand  not knowing and asks Holmes to find the body.

Holmes agrees to take the case, but notices something that will make things harder; Jasper has Alzheimer’s.

As Holmes and Watson head off to Cloisterham, only to hear that that Jasper has also disappeared. Now they have to find the missing nephew and uncle.

Holmes and Watson look into Jasper’s old home and find his diary of which he wrote of the incident that Neville and Edwin fought and his fears of what might happen next between them.

They also read about Jasper’s secret love for Rosa and that whole love triangle.

The two are invited to the Deanery for Christmas dinner, where they meet the Crisparkles. After living with the family as a ward, Mr. Crisparkle and Helena fell in love and have been married this past 30 years. Her brother ended up much unhappier. He had to leave the area as he was always seen in suspicion, Rosa refused his advances, and he died alone and unhappy.

How sad

Sherlock Holmes tracks down Mr. Grewgious, Rosa’s lawyer, and found out that Jasper is not in a home, but is residing in an asylum. He escaped to find Holmes, but has been found and put back.

They also find out that Rosa married Lt. Jack Tarter; YES! what I wanted!

Before Holmes can set out to research more on this case he has to solve “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” and “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”.

After those two cases, Holmes and Watson continue their investigation and discover some beautiful paintings by the painter, Edmond Dupont.

It was so obvious here what happened. Edwin took off either faking his death or didn’t realize everyone thought he was dead and changed his name to Edmond Dupont, to become a painter instead of his parent’s dream of engineer.

In the end it turned out that I was correct; Edwin became Edmound and was unaware of what happened with Neville. He later met up with Rosa after the death of her husband, and the two fell in love. I did not like that as I hated Rosa.

Ugh

Jasper had been planning on killing Edwin when he drugged the stonecutter, but Edwin took off before he put the plan into effect. His guilt and drug induced state made him think he killed Edwin and he has been feeling guilty ever since.

The mysterious stranger Datchery that everyone has wondered who he was, turned out to be a friend of the lawyer.

That’s it?

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Thoughts After Reading:

It was okay as it was a fan novel and tried to give you what he thought the fans wanted.

Giving a happy ending, no murder, certain characters together you wished; etc.

I hate it

But it was just okay. Cute, a one time read, but not more than that.

And Rosa and Edwin getting together in the end was a disappointment as I hated Rosa.

For more on Edwin Drood, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to The Red Headed League

For more altered classics, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more Christmas mysteries, go to A Farewell To Yarns

For more retrograde mysteries, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more missing persons mysteries, go to Emilie and the Sky World

For more not-in-a-series mysteries, go to The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

Dust to Dust

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Dust to Dust (Kovac and Liska Mysteries #2) by Tami Hoag

Thoughts Before Reading:

While I enjoyed the character of Kate in Ashes to Ashes, I thought the dynamic of Officer Kovac and Liska was just dynamite. I think Hoag realized this too, and that’s why she switched to making the rest of the series about them.

And while I did enjoy this book, let me warn you it is not for the faint of heart. It can be graphic at times in descriptions and language. Of course I won’t be in my review, but if you decided to read it afterwards, you were warned.

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Internal Affairs Minneapolis Officer Andy Fallon was found dead in his home from hanging himself. One word was left on the mirror, Sorry.

Where is the treasure?!

Was it auto-erotic asphyxia  gone wrong?

Or a suicide, sorry, being the note?

As his father is considered a hero, shot and injured in the line of duty; and most knew that Andy was gay; the department heads decide it is better to qualm any gossip by ending the investigation quickly and moving toward a funeral.

However, this doesn’t sit right with Officer Kovac. Even though it isn’t in his jurisdiction, he decides to start looking into the death for Andy’s father, Mike Fallon. Mike was Kovac’s mentor and he feels he owes it to him to discover the truth.

Liska agrees to their “uninvestigating” and as they begin digging, cracks start to form. They uncover multiple suspects, coming from both the police department and internal affairs.

But the department is not pleased with this investigation as they want this whole case to “go away”. With Captain Ace Wyatt leaving Minneapolis for Hollywood, and Mike having been through so much already; everything would be better if it was just left alone.

But that’s not Kovac and Liska’s style, and as they decide to root out the truth, they discover that Andy was looking into the case of when his father was shot.

WHAT!

Could this two month old death have anything to do with what happened over twenty years ago?

I wonder…

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Thoughts After Reading:

Once again Hoag hits it out of the park. She created an interesting and suspenseful story that keeps you on the edge of your seat to discover whodunit.

So we as a reader know from the beginning that Andy was murdered. While some books it can be annoying or feel too drawn out waiting for the other characters to reach this realization, the way Hoag wrote it just intensified the rest of the book as we all eagerly read to discover which of our potential suspects was the killer.

While I figured out most of the resolution, Hoag still had a few twists I didn’t see coming.

For more Kovac and Liska Mysteries, go to Ashes to Ashes

For more retrograde mysteries, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more suicides as a cover for murder, go to Catering to Nobody

For more mystery reviews, go to Murder and the First Lady

 

A Duty to the Dead

So this year marks something very special. It is the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I.

In fact today is the very day it started for us Yankees. In honor of that, I decided to post a World War I mystery (even though it takes place in England and occurs before we jumped on board.

Oh well…

Before we start, I would just like to thank all those who served (whether alive or dead), thank you for serving your country and protecting it.

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A Duty to the Dead (Bess Crawford Mystery #1)

Bess is a nurse in WWI. She has encountered many wounded men, but no loss has affected her like one of her most recent patients. She actually fell in love with him and before he passed, and was given a message to deliver:

“Tell my brother Jonathan that I lied…I did it for Mother’s sake. But it has to be set right.”

After surviving a mined ship, Bess is given some time to recover from the incident and her injured arm. She decides this is the best time to travel and release the words given to her as the young soldier lay dying.

When Bess does deliver the news, none of the family seem to understand. Not Jonathan, his brother, mother, etc. Bess finds this odd, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It turns out there is another brother, Peregine, one who has been placed in a psychiatric hospital for his insanity and for the murder he committed of a young girl years before.

But when he is sent to the family homestead to be cared for as he has become ill; Bess finds him to be not what she expected. In fact the opposite of the insane, stupid, beast that has been painted for her.

But then Peregine escapes from the asylum and follows Bess home. He holds her hostage in order to prove his innocence of the crime that occurred years ago.

Is he telling the truth?

Is Peregine telling the truth and is a wronged man? Or is Bess forced to follow the whim of a murderer.

I wonder…

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Thoughts After Reading:

Amazing! I couldn’t stop reading as I had to find out what happened next. Which brother did it? Is Peregine innocent or mad?

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to Paper Roses

For more retrograde mysteries, go to C is for Corpse

For more mysteries, go to Murder at Oklahoma

Candy Canes of Christmas Past

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Ready for the next Christmas mystery? Here you go!

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Candy Canes of Christmas Past (Lucy Stone #0.5) by Leslie Meier

So a couple of years back I was at a library sale and they were doing a whole brown bag full of whatever for $1.00. I picked up all kinds of book, one of which was Lucy Stone #3 Trick or Treat Murder. 

I read it and hated it, vowing to never read another one of the books again.

Then I picked up this book at the library

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I didn’t have anything to read and was waiting for some people so I started reading it. I loved this mystery as it was the perfect blend of Christmas story, a family trying to get things together, and a mystery. It was perfect and I absolutely adored it.

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The story was compelling as the reader is caught up in trying to find out how the Stone family will make it through Christmas in a dilapidated house, with barely any money, and no oven for Christmas dinner!

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As Lucy is trying to settle in the new town and meet people, she befriends the town librarian and is told of her mother’s mysterious death.

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Lucy is on the case to investigate a mystery in retrospect, find her place in the town, and figure out what to do about Christmas and Christmas dinner.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So many authors try to blend a story of a small town community with a murder mystery and fail. This one gets it right.

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If I could buy a copy of this book on its own I would as I just loved it. It may become a new tradition for me to read every year around the holidays. You should check it out!

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For more Christmas Mysteries, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

For more stay at home moms who try a hand at investigating, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sinister Sprinkles